At each well-baby visit, your pediatrician will ask you whether you have any specific concerns about your baby's development. She will also ask whether your baby has begun to do certain things by certain ages, such as tracking your movements with his eyes or reacting playfully to your hand motions.
A delay in attaining certain motor skills can be the earliest sign of cerebral palsy, which results from a dysfunction or damage in the brain. Early detection of neurological conditions like this is paramount in developing children, because delay in treatment can adversely affect the quality of life for these children as adults.
While most parents are not experts in child development, they usually have a fairly good sense of what to expect in terms of their baby's ability to do certain things. However, there are some common misconceptions about developmental milestones that need to be clarified.
Many babies surprise their parents by mastering the art of rolling over at a very early age. Even though most babies cannot roll over until after four months of age, some precocious infants manage to do so before the age of two months.
Always be wary of where you leave your infant. Many early-rolling babies suffer falls from heights, such as a bed or changing table, because their parents weren't expecting them to roll around yet. Always have one hand on the baby when you are changing diapers. You never know when she's going to surprise you by turning over for the first time.
On the other hand, some babies cannot roll over until after six months of age. If this is the case with your child, ask your pediatrician to pay close attention to your child's motor development and muscle tone. There is usually no reason to be alarmed, but extra vigilance never hurts.
Babies generally start crawling between the ages of six and ten months. While most babies learn how to crawl before they manage to take their first walking step, some babies completely skip the developmental milestone of crawling. One day out of the blue, they simply take off and go from sitting to walking. If your baby does not crawl by a certain age, there is usually no need to be worried. Ask your pediatrician, if you are still concerned.
For those babies who do crawl, this motor skill poses additional risk to the infant. New safety concerns arise with the attainment of mobility for the baby. Parents and other care providers must stay vigilant at all times after a baby learns how to crawl.
Even though most babies crawl on all fours, innovative babies may also think outside the box. They often scoot backward, pivot on one arm and one leg to move forward, or drag their feet behind them as they claw their way around. There is no right way to crawl. As long as it gets the child from point A to point B efficiently, parents do not need to intervene or correct the crawling style.
It is unnecessary to buy shoes for your child when she first starts walking. In fact, walking barefoot may help strength the muscles in the feet and help her gain better balance during the first few months of walking. Shoes are only designed to protect the feet from rough walking surfaces. There is no need for them if your toddler is just going to run around indoors.
For most parents, this is one of the big monumental milestones in their baby's life. Taking the first step is an exciting moment for the baby as well as the parents, and the baby seems to realize this. He laughs nervously as he stretches out his leg and makes this giant leap in his developmental history. With each successful step, he rejoices and feels tremendously proud of his new-found independence.
However, when the fireworks finish and the dust settles, parents suddenly realize the meaning of their baby's mobility. All the places in the house that used to be unreachable for their child now potentially threaten the toddler with the possibility of cuts and bruises. Hopefully, you have already childproofed your house by this time.