Stepping Stones

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

My wee one is about to roll and as exciting as that may be , ( finding her wedged under the sofa and suddenly seeing all the potential baby hazards in my house, like that corner of the fireplace and all the baby proofing I am about to embark on ) it got me thinking , as people keep saying ohh she 'll be crawling in no time , etc. That there is a natural order to things. But I need a disclaimer to this post. This is my belief and my belief only and if your child does it different then that's ok. So here is how I see , first comes the head holding, getting control of their necks. If you think how big their heads are in relation to their wee bodies, this is a major feat! Then looking around and tracking you , first by smell, then sound, then sight. Once they have mastered all this and accepted tummy time, they will hate it to begin with but stick with it, so helpful in muscle development of head, neck and shoulders, as well and cognitive development and motor skills of arms and legs movement. Then you will see then trying to roll, it's wonderful to watch then sort out balance and legs and arms to push off and to get all the right weights and counters in place to then go over.

Once they get the hang of it , they are off and rolling around the floor like no ones business, looking rather proud of themselves and smug. But this will soon , not be enough and the brain will say, up up and away and wiggling like a worm across the floor with their bums in the arm , arms flailing will soon translate into the next step which is crawling. As I said the cognitive development and gross motor skill start to work together to get there arms to push up , their knees to bend and their bums in the air and to move in one formation. This usually happens in reverse, and I don't need they get it all wrong , I mean they go backwards literally. Usually wedging themselves once again under the couch and looking for assistance. But they will get it. Now here is the disclaimer and my own thinking and training as child care professional for 25 years . If you child commando crawls, ( just the arms), spider walks ( up on hands and feet vs palms and knees) doesn't use opposites as in left moving with right and vice versa or sits up and bum shuffles along ( kinda bouncing themselves along the carpet) Then get them to stop. I'm sorry controversial but I totally stand by this! You need to intervene and show them how to crawl.

Why, - to help the synapsis's of the brain form correct pathways such as the left hand side of your body is controlled by the right hand side of your brain and vice versa. In crawling left right left right and having the opposite arm and leg combination, it allows the two sides of the brain to be 'switched on'. This is detrimental to further development in the brain and is linked to forming words, reading and writing , co ordination and even stopping dyslexia, some studies have found .

How do I do this, well take your wee one back a step , pop them back on the floor , either face up or down and show them by crossing their centre lines with their arms and legs over it , Centre line is as it says on the tin and runs straight down your body. So if you l touch opposite toes to ear lobes and hands to knees this does the switching on for them and encourages them to crawl. When they are on their tummies , lift them gently and encourage them to rock on their knees to get forward motion. Put a trail of bribes in front of them , like ET and the candy , little trails to follow to toys and most of all get on the floor with them and show them , you crawl !

Around the same time, they will learnt sit. This stepping stone is one that runs along side crawling as some babies will learn to sit up first them lean forward and go in to crawling others will crawl then lean back and plop onto bums. Sitting and supporting themselves completely is also a feat in itself as they have to co ordinate heads, ( very heavy) and spine, knees bent to balance and arms as , as soon as they get it , they will start reaching for things and bringing them back to themselves. There will be a lot of drunken sailor moves, and topples over sideways and they can use all the help they can get with a soft landing. But be careful not to help them too much as they need to learn to balance and they need to have the muscle strength first. If you help them too much , they can get a false sense of security and hurt them selves when they think they can , but really can't. Sitting is also a great skill as the next stepping stone is pulling themselves up and this too is fraught with failures so being able to plop back onto their bums and be stable is important .

Pulling up, this is where life gets interesting , as a crawler they can get to places, but until they can figure out they can lift themselves , you just need to baby proof to a certain level i.e. corners , getting stuff off floor they can swallow. But when they realise they can go up, well think the dinosaur in Jurassic Park , rising up to the top of the tree, yes they can get in to everything. Think their height and then their reach, then add curiosity and the idea to combine reaching up and crawling vertically ,,,, yes climbing! Anyway back to pulling up , they will do it to anything that can hold their weight and everything that can't. You will spend many an hour hunched over with your fingers being clung to , pulling them selves up. They have been planking all this time , on tummy time, their core strength is amazing , puts us all to shame , trust me. So batter down the hatches, inside. Only have things that they can safely pull up on, like the coffee table and the couch and that chair leg. But secure them, the furniture , not the baby , actually both really. Make sure there are no over hanging table cloths or loose anything that can be pulled down on them. That larger items are secured to the wall . There have been many an accident with dressers and drawers coming down on bubs as they pull or climb. Given them toys that they can pull up on, a great one is a wooden trolley with heavy blocks in it. It is wonderful to take their weight and then once stronger to push around as they learn to walk. Plastic ones are good but not as stable . Im not a great advocate of walkers, ( the round play station on wheels) I feel it gives them false sense of balance and I prefer the school of knock approach, trial and error.

Which totters me nicely in to walking. You will know all about it as firstly they want to walk everywhere holding on to your hands , your back will not forgive you for a while as you are hunched over to accommodate and they never seem to tire of this new trick/skill and secondly when they finally get it. It is a wonderful wobbling exciting moment those tentative first steps. And thats just you when you have let go of their hands and are walking backwards yelling to anyone that will listen , watch , they're going to go , get the camera!! No, its great the look of determination and fear all at the same time. Rule of thumb , I have found is that once they let go of what ever they are holding on to be it yourself or coffee table and they stand for a sec, then low themselves down to a wee squat and come back up again..... Then you have days till they are toddling about the place and you are chasing them around the house to get their pjs on after bath. It is such a wonderful time those first couple of weeks of walking. They are literally finding their feet and taking those baby steps. Coming on in confidence and self awareness.

And then the work really starts , they are off and confidence has been found and building, they will start climbing , anything they can. Book cases are a favourite its like it's a ladder! So do secure all the big items to the wall. But the best one is their cot, they will climb in and best of all they will climb out so maybe think about lower sides and or mattress underneath for safety.

So as you can see there are a few stepping stone to get them to stepping. All of them are important and in my book sequential. It helps with brain development and fine motor skills in the long run. Pun intended.

The way I remember it is that old nursery rhyme. Head shoulders knees and toes.

Head, - getting control of their body

Shoulders - tummy time

Knees - crawling

Toes - standing and walking

There is a flow to the song ( which you now won't be able to get out of your head, I apologies ) and a natural progression that the body and brain follow, in getting up and running! There is also that old saying , You have to crawl before you stand and stand before you walk. And walk before you run. All things in good time and in the right order. ( just my opinion again )

One other point I want to make and probably should have said a lot further up in this , is that there is no time limit on this !! Your baby will do it in their own time , and you shouldn't compare to others even if they are roughly the same age. I had two children wee girls, one walked at 10 months , didn't say a word till over a year and a bit , the other 6 weeks younger, talking in full sentences but didn't walk till 18 months. We tend to , even if we don't admit it, compare and contrast our kids to others , even just to ourselves! Its for either competition, my child is better developed etc and or for comfort, oh good so and so is rolling , my wee one is too so thats normal. It's when you start thinking your child is behind or not doing what is normal that we start to question ourselves and them ! DON'T !!! As I said all in good time. Maybe panic after a couple of years if they aren't making any movements. DO remember to enjoy every bit of this journey with your child , they do so much in the first couple of years , it's a whirlwind. So take time to breathe and get the camera !!

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