How to help your baby reach three important milestones
Developmental milestones consist of social, cognitive, and motor skills that most children can perform at a particular point in time. Learning to roll, crawl, sit, stand and walk are all examples of important milestones that we expect babies to meet by the time they turn one year old. It’s important to keep an eye on your baby’s development because milestones signal that a child is learning the foundational skills that will lead to more advanced ones down the road. They confirm that your child’s development is happening as it should while also preparing them for the future!
On the other hand, if you notice that your child has delays in meeting certain milestones, don’t fret! Early intervention has been found to be a big help with helping them catch up to their peers. Not only that, but in our office we don’t want them to just meet their milestones, we want them to hit their milestones appropriately (for example, learning to army crawl vs learning to cross crawl) because we want to give them every advantage possible when it comes to their development so that they can reap those benefits years down the road! Our mindset is one of health by choice, not by chance!
With that being said, let’s get into how you can help your baby hit the trickier development milestones of their first year of life!
At approximately 4 months of age, it’s expected for your baby to start learning to roll from back-to-belly and belly-to-back, but by 6 months of age, it’s expected that your baby knows how to perform both. Usually babies learn how to roll from their belly to their back first, so here are some tips to help them get there!
- Tummy time: tummy time is incredibly important for infants because by laying face down in a secure environment, they’re able to strengthen their neck muscles and their upper body. Over time, babies gain the strength and skill to hold their head up and prop themselves onto their hands. When it comes to rolling from belly-to-back, once you work long enough with tummy time, the work is already half done!
- Teaching baby to roll: once your baby is able to support themselves on their hands, you can gently teach them to roll to their back. To do so, lightly stabilize one side of their hips while lifting up on the other hip. This will cause baby to lose balance and roll to their back. It’s important for the motion to be gentle so that we don’t activate baby’s startle reflex, and that you keep an eye out for baby’s facial expressions and mood. If you rush the motion, it could make them apprehensive and they could start to avoid rolling! A pro tip when trying this is to have them extend one arm further than the other. With this position, their body is more easily primed for rolling once you lift one side of their hips! Also, make sure you practice having your baby roll to both left and right sides!
Rolling from back-to-belly:
- Neck and core strength: similar to rolling from belly-to-back, strength in specific muscles is going to be crucial. For neck strength, you can do the tummy time that we mentioned above. For core strength, you’re going to want to incentivize your baby to kick their legs up because this engages their core. You can gently bring their feet up to stimulate the action, but a great example of a baby who is engaging their core is when they bring their feet up to their mouths.
- Teaching baby to roll: When it comes to this milestone, it’s all about baby developing the skill to either rotate their upper torso or their lower limbs, and then to be able to complete the motion. This is why we have babies develop strength in both the neck and core beforehand! To teach your baby how to roll from back-to-belly, grab a desired object and bring it just a bit over their head and off to the side. This promotes baby following the object by turning their head, and this in turn encourages them to have their upper torso follow this motion and initiates the action of rolling. If they’re still struggling with this motion, you can help them by focusing on them turning their lower torso first. Gentle stabilize one of baby’s hips while lifting the other one in the air. Cross one leg over the other until their lower torso is rolled to the side and then wait for baby to complete the motion. Also, make sure you practice having your baby roll to both left and right sides!
- First things first – getting to an all-fours position!
Before a baby is ready to crawl, they need to develop enough strength in their body to support themselves on their hands and knees. To do this, tummy time for newborns is essential! Laying on their belly will promote neck and upper body strength as babies will slowly be able to keep their head up and eventually prop themselves up on their elbows and hands.
Once a baby can prop themselves up, the next step is to have them be able to support themselves on their knees. At this point, you’ll want to gently bring them into an all-fours position by holding onto baby’s hips, lifting them off the floor, and tucking their thighs in so that their knees are touching the ground.
In the beginning, you’re probably going to have to support most of baby’s weight while they gain the strength and skill needed to fully support their own weight. With patience and time, your baby should be capable of getting on their hands and knees!
- Teaching your baby to cross crawl:
Promote a kneeling position:
For this method, try placing a sofa cushion on the floor with baby’s desired objects resting on top. This will incentivize baby to stay kneeling in front of the cushion and play with the preferred objects. Time and repetition will help your baby achieve that core strength needed to cross crawl.
Roll a towel up and place it under their tummy:
Beware! This method could have you shuffling after your baby and moving the towel with them as needed, but this is a great method for having your baby develop the core strength needed to lift their belly from the ground and execute a beautiful cross crawl instead of dragging themselves through the floor. You can also incentivize crawling by placing one of baby’s preferred objects just out of reach.
Last step – time, repetition, and grace!
At this point, time and repetition will guide your baby to achieving their best crawl. Now you also have to give yourself some grace! You’re already doing everything in your power to give your baby every opportunity to succeed in life!
Developing during their first year of life and beyond:
When it comes to learning milestones during their first year of life, most babies will inevitably fall on their tush, bump their heads, and have many tumbles every day. This is why even as they’re hitting their milestones appropriately and on time, it’s important to support your baby during their first year of life and beyond! Over time, constant falls and bumps can create small and gradual shifts in our spine that can then start putting pressure on your baby’s nerves.
A dysfunctional nervous system can affect infant development and so a great way to catch things as they happen before they become a bigger issue is to reach out to your local pediatric chiropractor! By keeping their nervous system healthy, we’re able to help them continue to develop and reach more advanced skills. We believe in helping you to give your baby every advantage possible in life because what we’ve seen time and time again is that healthy babies become healthy kids and healthy kids become healthy adults.