With the recent update of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines for development, many parents have been left questioning if their child is developing at the right pace or if their motor skills are delayed. The most important thing to remember is that you know your child best and that you can always visit a pediatric physical therapist to ensure your child is on track for meeting their developmental milestones. Our pediatric physical therapists share the six big skills that they want to see in your baby during their first year.
We want to see your baby holding their head up while on their tummy at two months. Tummy time is a great activity for kids to start interacting with the world and being engaged. Holding their head up against gravity makes their neck and back muscles strong in preparation for crawling! Even more so, it can be done with your baby laying on your chest for extra bonding time – just grab a napkin for that drool dripping!
At four months, your infant should be holding on to toys that you hand them. This allows your baby to develop their grip strength and focuses eyesight on the toy, switching between a favorite toy and you! Interacting with parents, siblings, and other babies in this way develops social skills and lays the foundation for a strong community.
Around this time, your baby may start figuring out mobility by starting to roll from back to belly - and even belly to back! This is an important milestone because it helps infants to develop coordination between their upper and lower body, as well as allowing for good core strengthening. We also want to see your baby starting to play with and even eat their toes around this age. This is a great sensory input and helps your baby to learn more about their body while working on their abdominal muscles.
We want to see your baby starting to sit without assistance at about six months. Sitting develops core strength, balance, and ability to play. Dr. Christine Pawlina reminds parents that "these are important for eating, digestion, play, and integration with family during meals. Plus, it’s the perfect time for a little peek-a-boo too!"
At nine months, your baby should be crawling on hands and knees and army crawling. Both allow for children to be able to explore their environment more freely. At this point, it’s important to have a baby-proofed area where your child can explore and learn how their bodies move without hazards like breakables or small objects in the way. We want to see babies crawl to develop coordination, core activation, reciprocal movements, and hip and shoulder stability. Once your child is comfortable with crawling, you can even set up an obstacle course with cushions and have fun crawling around with them!
It’s time to start cruising on furniture! Having children starting to stand and take their first steps is such an exciting time. Your child is developing their balance, figuring out how to shift their weight for independent walking, and getting excited to be a part of the walking world. "Using a walker toy can also help children to learn how to take forward and backward steps. Be sure all stairs are blocked when your child is using a walker! They may start moving faster than we are ready for once they are given some wheels" Dr. Sarah Goldstein advises.
The pediatric physical therapists at Performance Physical Therapy are your resource to help you understand your child’s developmental progress. They also provide the services to assist and encourage both you and your children to reach movement and function goals. If you think your child may need physical therapy, request a phone consult with one of our pediatric physical therapists in Rhode Island.
Dr. Sarah Goldstein PT, DPT is an expert in pediatric physical therapy who specializes in a wide variety of pediatric diagnoses including torticollis, plagiocephaly, scoliosis, club feet, toe walking, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, gross motor and/or development delay.
Dr. Christine Pawlina PT, DPT is a physical therapist who specializes in pediatrics and orthopedic injuries.
For any comments, please reach out to SGoldstein@performanceptri.com.