During a baby’s first year of life there is a lot of change as they progress from being a small, fairly immobile, bundle through to an independent, moving, little person. Milestones are the times where a major change in their movement patterns occurs and they end up learning & mastering some cool new skills that help with their overall physical development.
Hands to mouth & grabbing things
3-4 months – Around this time, babies will discover the delights of their fingers! Their hands open up out of a fist, they want to suck on their hands & fingers, and start to grab hold of things they can touch or feel, progressing to reaching for objects. By bringing the upper limbs to the central position of the mouth, these movements help a baby develop their sense of midline.
Rolling 4-6 months
This usually starts with an unexpected topple when on their tummy, to their back, and progresses to an intentional movement pattern. The same can be said for rolling from back to front, which can first be discovered once finding and holding onto feet and falling onto the side, or by extending through their back and turning through the head & neck. These become quite deliberate & smooth movements and should be achievable on both the right and left sides.
Crawling 6-9 months
Crawling is an important milestone to reach as it develops with significant neurological pathways being laid down between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It will often start with a baby getting into an all-fours position and rocking forwards and backwards until the shoulder girdle builds up enough strength to support the body weight. Once they can coordinate the arm & leg movements to happen on opposite sides of the body, they propel themselves forward and are off!
Sitting 9 months
Requiring more core strength to support the body in this position, sitting is an important skill to attain on the way to an upright posture. A baby will often start with their hands on the floor in front of them for support until they can hold themselves up, and will likely have quite a few topples before mastering the control of their trunk required to pull themselves back up.
Standing/cruising/walking – 12+ months
It is not long before the reach of an arm can find something stable to hold onto in order to pull themselves first into kneeling and then into standing positions. This is where the lower limbs build significant muscle strength and proprioception, allowing the body to recognize where its parts are in space. Initially babies will have quite a wide stance with the feet turned slightly out, as this provides them with greater stability. Simply standing at something progresses to moving along it whilst still holding on, the “cruising” stage. Some babies will progress quite quickly to independent walking, whilst others may take quite a while to build the strength & confidence to let go.
If you are concerned about any of the milestones your baby is going through, chat to one of our paediatric osteopaths now!