Thursday, October 13, 2011

Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestones: Babies on the Move

It doesn't take long for your baby to go from rolling to sitting to crawling and more!

It's hard to believe that in just 12 months, your baby goes from an immobile, curled-up little hamster to a toddling (or nearly so) tot! Watch for these developmental milestones along the way.
Head control. For the first month, your newborn needs you to support his head and neck. At one to two months old, he'll be strong enough to lift up his head and turn it while lying on his belly; he'll also begin to keep his own head upright, at least briefly, when you hold his on your shoulder.
Rolling over. At three to four months old, your infant's mini push-ups eventually land his on his back (he may be just as surprised as you are to find himself face up). Making sure he gets plenty of tummy time helps his develop this skill (rolling from back to front is trickier to master and will take a little longer).
Bearing weight on legs. Also at three months or so, your baby's hips and knees show improved strength and flexibility (it takes them a while to unthink after all that time in the fetal position!). He can now begin to bear weight on his legs if you hold his upright. In a few more months, he may bounce happily if you stand his up like this as he gets his walking muscles ready to hit the road.
Reaching and tracking. Around this time (three months) your baby's eyesight has improved enough to allow his to see objects farther away than his own hand. Aha! Now he has an incentive to reach for things, especially if they're colorful. By the time he's about five months old, he can track a moving object with his eyes too.
Sitting up. No, it's not one of the mobility milestones, but sitting up does tend to be a precursor to crawling: Your baby leans over into a tripod position, and soon enough figures out how to get on all fours. From about four months on (depending on his head and neck control) you can prop his in a seated position. This helps build his muscles, and allows his to see how much fun it is to have those hands free to play with his toys.
Scooting and crawling. Although not every baby crawls — some skip right from sitting to cruising to walking — crawling can develop anytime in the second half of the first year. Once he learns to sit up, your baby may discover how to scoot his little tushie from place to place. Or he may find that rolling (and rolling, and rolling) is more efficient. Eventually, he may progress through the army crawl (elbows or hands moving along the floor, legs dragging behind) to an all-fours stance.
Cruising. In this pre-walking stage (which typically starts between eight and 12 months), your baby pulls himself up to standing using whatever's handy: typically furniture, or sometimes Mommy's or Daddy's legs. Holding on tight with first two, then just one hand, he makes a move! Tentatively, then confidently, he practices his steps. Get ready: He'll soon be walking on his own two feet.
Walking. Your baby (oops, we mean toddler!) may take his first steps anytime between nine and 18 months (from 13 to 15 months is most common). Encourage his to bust a move by making sure he has the time and space for plenty of practice. Once he catches on, life will never be the same for either of you!

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