Baby on the Go!
From the moment of birth, your baby will begin developing every muscle in his or her body – stretching and strengthening them and gradually gaining control, getting ready to explore the world.
From being able to lift the head, to rolling over, sitting, crawling, and finally walking, the stages are generally much the same. But don’t worry if other babies of the same age are doing more than yours, as rates of mobility development vary quite a bit. Just help baby along by giving plenty of opportunities for ‘exercising’.
Let baby have short sessions on his or her tummy – in the cot, or on a play-mat on the floor – to help with strengthening neck muscles and gaining control of head movement. After two or three months, your baby will be able to hold his or her head steadily and turn it to examine everything around.
Time on the tummy will also lead to ‘pushing up’ – at around four or five months – lifting head and shoulders and strengthening the arm muscles. In turn, this will also help develop the later skill of crawling; baby will get onto all fours and first rock to and fro, then progress to moving forwards or backwards at about eight months of age.
When lying on his or her back, your baby will gradually become strong enough to turn not only the head but the whole body from side to side, as natural curiosity demands a different view of surroundings. Suitable objects and toys nearby will stimulate efforts to turn and eventually roll from back to front, and back again.
Place soft toys with differing textures and that make different sounds (scrunching, jingling, etc.) within baby’s reach to be grasped and squeezed, or move them yourself from side to side and up and down. This will not only encourage reaching and grasping to aid muscle strength and manipulative skills, but will entertain, and also stimulate touch, coordination and other areas of your baby’s learning development. Always carefully select age-appropriate, well-made toys that are specially created for babies and young children – and launder and check them frequently for damage, to make sure they are safe for your baby to enjoy.
Once baby’s neck is strong, colourful objects on a ‘baby gym’ hung across the cot will not only attract interest, but baby will reach for and grasp at them – which will help to strengthen muscles in the hands, arms and back. Encourage baby to pull up when he or she is lying on the cot or a play-mat by holding his or her hands firmly and prompting a pulling movement. Prop baby with cushions – always under supervision of course – for a new view of the world. Gradually, your baby will sit more steadily, and eventually be able to sit unaided by about eight months of age.
Baby will also begin pulling up and standing while holding on to your hands or on to items of furniture – then he or she will move on to ‘cruising’ along the furniture, and eventually – at about 12 months old – to taking those first bold, but compulsive steps!
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