The BIRTHFIT Team stops by the Mother Dirt blog and does a deep dive on childhood development, exploring the importance of letting kids play and grow up in their own way - and get a little dirty as they go!
By: BIRTHFIT Collaboration
Lindsay Mumma, DC
Erica Boland, DC
Lindsey Mathews, DC
Parents are proud of every milestone their child reaches - from first steps to first job. Sometimes, parents are so excited about their children’s progress that they encourage their kids to meet milestones faster and faster. The BIRTHFIT team (and Mother Dirt) understands the value of taking time for kids to be kids, and has some insight into the important stages of a baby’s development we should take the time to appreciate. Babies are born with immature motor patterns. Newborns tend to have knees tucked and hands and arms often flexed close to body, or even near the face. Development begins with the drive to learn more and explore the surrounding environment. As babies are exposed to lights, sounds, and touch, they have the desire to discover more of this world and begin to integrate different parts of their body into learning.
We’re not taught to roll, hold or grasp objects, sit up, crawl, or walk. Babies do, however, begin to learn movements in a typical sequence - and each milestone that is met marks an important developmental progression. Our movement patterns in the first year of life are the basis for function in movement as we grow and advance. For example, if the baby doesn’t support themselves on the elbow during tummy time, rolling or crawling, the scapula (shoulder blade) is not secure within movement and eventually the baby may have problems such as impingement issues or even tear the rotator cuff. If the movement pattern is not addressed, the problem remains. This is also one reason a patient can have surgery on that same shoulder and end up with the same problem.
Many parents get excited as their children meet milestones, and they may even try to encourage their babies to develop quickly. But the saying holds true - “let them be little.” Let them experiment and get a little dirty, and develop healthily and independently.
Thumbs move from inside closed fist to outside closed fists
Eye contact begins
Support on elbows
Can rotate head without moving trunk
Spine starts to upright from mid to upper back
Start support on opposite knee and elbow (helping to begin closure of DRA)
Diaphragm flattens and mature breathing patterns begin
Free hand grabs objects but cannot cross midline
Hands can touch hips and groin
Oblique muscle activation occurs
Able to roll from back to belly
Can grab feet with hands
Can bring toes to mouth
Rocking from base of support on hands up to all fours
Start to creep forward with use of upper body
Oblique sit occurs (first elbow and down thigh, eventual open hand and down thigh)
Further crawling development
Stepping forward to standing
Side walking along furniture
Stand freely after standing with support
Walking between objects (side to side)
Walking in sagittal (forward) plane
Stand independently from “bear” position
Side note: Placing your child in a position that he/she is not able to hold himself will actually prevent him from learning how to achieve that position. So avoid things like the Bumbo seat, exersaucers, door jumps, baby walkers/ push carts, and baby swings until they are appropriate for their motor skills.
This is a general developmental milestone outline. Children are people, and they learn at different rates just like us. Some children may need a little assistance from a chiropractor or biomechanical therapist, and that is okay. Children need to get a sense of how their bodies function in space and with gravity. This allows them to develop coordination and activate certain muscle groups and motor patterns. By allowing your child to progress through these milestones at their pace also enhances their trust in the world and their confidence in their abilities.