Many parents feel pressure from outside sources to rush their child through stages of development. They hear stories of how a friend’s kid walked at only 10 months old and wonder if their own baby is behind because they are not reaching the same milestones as quickly.
But children are unique. There is no “exact” age that children should roll over, crawl, sit & stand but there is an order. If given the opportunity, it is amazing that babies can progress through these different movement patterns without instruction. As infants, the majority already contain these patterns ingrained into their neurological system. Their bodies know inherently how to progress, when to do so, and in what order.
The particular position in development I would like to highlight is “tummy time,” also referred to as the “prone” position. Spending adequate time lying prone is vital for your child’s development. It helps them develop proper neck strength along with the musculature specifically designed to stabilize the shoulders, not to mention helping develop ideal spinal curvature.
Not Enough Tummy Time
The consequences of too little tummy time, aside from a flattened skull at the back of the head, are things that will challenge the child throughout life. As humans, we are very good at creating adaptations to accomplish the task at hand, but this is not always the best path. Too little tummy time requires these compensations and puts children at risk for neck pain, poor posture, and shoulder dysfunction later on in life.
As parents, the best help we can be to our children is through encouragement. Put your baby on the floor in a position they can handle on their own, and then get down with them and interact; talk to them, play music for them, show them toys and get them interested in the world around them. This is great, not only for bonding with your baby, but also to motivate them to move, which in turn strengthens their muscles, allowing them to progress to crawling and walking. This extra effort will ensure a more stable platform upon which the child will be able to move his/her neck, shoulders and upper body.
Parenting is difficult. You are doing the best you can and I give you many kudos for that. This blog is meant to inform you, so that you may be able to give your child the best. The one contribution on your part is spending time with them. Your best bet is to get them used to tummy time from a young age; as early as two weeks! As always, make sure they are properly supervised, especially while still building the strength to move their head freely when on their stomach.