How to Help Your Baby Develop Skills and Reach Milestones (Part 2)

Newborn Care

When your baby reaches 8 months, he can already sit up without your support. Your little one enjoys rolling down to his stomach and returning to a sitting position again. Some babies are in constant motion as they arch their necks and look around while on their stomachs. So, what’s the next milestone for your baby?

In this article, we will discuss crawling which is the next stage or milestone for your baby to acquire.

The Significance of Practice in Developing Your Child’s Skills

According to the book “Understanding Child Development 0-8 Years 4th Edition”, there is a research study into brain development in very early childhood and it has confirmed that babies and toddlers need to be able to move. They need plenty of hands-on learning, and safe feet-on and mouth-on contact to learn through their senses. 

The fun and enjoyable practice of crawling, grasping, and handling objects builds vital neural connections in young brains. Babies and children need to repeat and practice, in order to firm up those connections. The neuroscientists express the idea as ‘the cells that fire together wire together’. This need for happy practice is not restricted to physical development, but so much of early learning is led through the drive to move. 

Continued experience in any area of development firms up neural connections, until they form the complex neural pathways on which babies build more learning. Those connections that are not strengthened by repeated experience are less strong and may fade away. 

Try observing one or more babies over the time they learn to crawl. Other babies don’t necessarily crawl but they move by bottom shuffling. You will see the external version of what is being built in the baby’s brain.

  • Babies who are ready will have built the muscle strength to be on all fours, but the problem is ‘How do you move?’. Babies often rock to and fro, looking up perplexed because, despite all the vigorous movements, they have not actually travelled at all.
  • Then, quite often babies manage to move but, because the top half of their body is currently stronger, they go backwards. They sit on their bottom, look around expectantly and their face often crumples in disappointment. 
  • But babies keep trying and are soon rewarded with forward motion, which they practice enthusiastically over the days. You will see the gleam in their eye, as they spot something of interest, move from sitting to crawling, reach their destination, sit back on their bottom and reach out their hands. 
  • You have observed the development from an immature set of neural connections to a fully functioning neural pathway that is linked to baby thinking and forward planning. 

Tips and Ways to Help Your Baby Crawl Safely

According to some references, crawling is important for the development of integrated communication between the two sides of the brain. Some babies never crawl but rather scoot on their bottoms or move on their stomachs.

Before your baby can crawl, he has to be able to get into the right position. He has to be able to straighten his body so that his legs are outstretched. He has to learn adequate control of his head and neck. He has to have the strength to push up on both of his arms so that his chest and head are clear of the floor.

In this section, we are happy to provide you an informative guide based on the book “New Baby Care: A Practical Guide to the First 3 Years” on how to encourage your baby to start moving forward from a lying or sitting position:

  1. The best possible way is for you to sit a few feet from your baby and to encourage him to come towards you, possibly using one of his favorite toys as an enticement. 
  2. Help your baby whenever you think he needs it, particularly if he’s getting tired and frustrated because his efforts are unsuccessful, and make sure that you always praise any efforts that he makes.
  3. As your baby becomes more adventurous, you can help him by placing a toy just out of reach so that he has to use all his resources, including his determination to get it.
  4. Babies learn by mimicry from a very early age so once he starts trying to crawl it’s not a bad idea for you to get down on the floor yourself and crawl with him.
  5. Slippery floors, although usually dangerous, can be encouraging for crawling babies because even the slightest movement is rewarded with forward motion.

Precautionary Measures/ Safety Tips

  • Never leave your baby alone.
  • Remove furniture with sharp edges and corners.
  • Remove anything breakable from a surface that is less than 3 feet (1 meter) from the floor. 
  • Do not leave wires trailing across the floor.
  • Cover sockets with safety plugs.
  • Make sure that there are no electric switches less than 3 feet (1 meter) from the floor.
  • Put safety gates across doorways and at the bottom of the stairs.
  • Try to keep the floor clear of small, sharp toys.
  • Make sure all fireplaces are guarded.
  • Do not leave any clothes hanging from tables that can be reached and pulled by your baby. Make sure that all furniture is sturdy and fixtures are safely attached to the wall. 
  • Never leave anything hot on the table in the same room as your baby.
  • Check if the stair balusters are not wide enough apart for a child to squeeze through. 
  • Make sure that all cabinet doors are closed firmly and that the handles are out of a crawling baby’s reach; if they aren’t, lock or seal them with masking tape. 
  • Make sure that all containers of poisonous substances are locked away or out of reach.

CONCLUSION

There is no specific age when your baby will start to crawl. But you should not be worried if your baby shows a lack of interest in crawling. Some babies will probably learn them in the later stages. Still, it is quite common for babies to learn to crawl in various ways such as backwards or forwards. Other babies just roll and bum shuffle. As your baby learns how to crawl, encourage him to be as curious and adventurous as possible.

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