In the previous part of this serie we described according to which basic signals you can evaluated the development of the child between the fifth and sixth month of life if there is something wrong. So far we described 3 main signals. Today we will talk about when is the right time to buy for your child walker, when will your baby stop drooling, and when will you stop mixing the food. Today in this part you will get to know, how can the development of the child be disrupted by forcing the child to stand or having effort to speed up the development by prematurely trying to make the child sit.
Your child grows very fast. With each week the baby is more clever and gains new abilities, and it likes to train and advance them.
What should the baby be able to do while laying on the back?
The child should have no problems handing the objects from one hand to another, and train coordination (shaking, flipping, waving, etc.).
The child is also more and more playing with its feet. In the 6th month it was already able to reach the toes, and in the 7th month it is perfected by „tasting” the feet.
You child is able to flat the belly to extent of pulling the legs up above the chest, grasping them and putting them into the mouth. Your child will be thrilled if you will play this game along as well, by „knocking” the feet against the nose, mouth or forehead. You will surely get a sincere laugh out of your child.
Your child should under any conditions keep the axis of the body straight, so that the axis of the neck, body and leg would be in one straight line.
The head should not bend backwards, shoulders should be equally high, the belly and chest should directly direct towards the ceiling without any rotation and the child should be able to hold the legs above the belly, chest or head. This ability, whether the child can or cannot keep the body axis symmetrical, is manifesting the most by newly formed abilities. Even baby that has a healthy development is entitled to make small mistakes with keeping the body axis straight, but within a week or two the child should be able to control the new ability and at the same time keep its body in a straight line.
Children are usually starting to rotate more towards one side, but they should not stay only there, and within a week or two they should be able to rotate the other side as well.
What should the child be able to do while laying on the stomach?
The child should be able to play with the toy while laying on the stomach.
Leaning against one arm, elbow and forearm, and the second arm is free to grasp the toy. The child should normally switch the right and left hand with the opposite legs.
The child should be able to lean on both elbows of the stretched arm, while resting on the open palms of the hands.
In order to get to the „second stage”, from where the child has yet better view of the surroundings. The baby is also already comfortable in this position by reaching with one hand for an object. If the child can grasp the toy, it will lean on the elbow and forearms and at the same time it will lunge forward.
If the child can’t reach the toy, it has several options, how to try and grasp it:
- The child will either intensively try to stretch out its arms and bend in the back, till the abdominal muscles and thigh muscles catapult the child to the position on all fours. This position or way how to reach the toy is a dead end. And in order to step towards the toy, the child has to get to this position by lunging forwards with one leg and afterwards with second leg as well. This is much more demanding, but it will be more clear one month later. Nothing else will be left but to lay again on the stomach and try it some other way.
- The baby can attempt to crawl. But usually the first attempts end by spinning in circles on the stomach. But the child will quickly learn, that if it can’t reach the toy in front, the toy right next to the child will be enough, and the child will on purpose spin from left to right.
- Crawling is coordinately very demanding ability, which your child should accomplish by 7 month. Healthy children who do not suffer from asymmetrical body posture, switch their legs and arms while crawling. If the child has asymmetrical body posture, it will try to crawl exclusively with one leg and one arm forward. Children who have weaker abdominal muscles will try to pull closer by adducting both arms at the same time. All the work is done by arms, nape muscle and back muscles.
End to squinting and uncoordinated eye movement. Squinting should disappear by the 6th month. The coordination of surrounding eye muscles should be on a perfect level, your child should not have anymore any occasional uncoordinated eye movements.
Coordination of the tongue muscles and facial muscles should function completely normal. Your child will stop drooling by 7th month (exception is when the teeth start to grow, some children may still drool), because the tongue is able to push the excessive saliva back towards the voice box (larynx) and the child start to swallow.
It won’t take very long and chewing will be also perfected, that you won’t have to mix the food anymore. You can support the child when it tries to chew by leaving them bigger chunks of soft pasta in the food.
With development of the facial muscles, the child starts to compose syllables. Do not hold it against the baby if the first words will be „da-da”, even though you are the one spending the most time with the child.
Ending with lying!
Also 8th months is in the development of the baby crucial. The child does not lay anymore as much as before on the back or stomach. The motivation is to reach for objects, crawl after mom, who walked away, etc., it will be a strong motivation for the child. Thanks to the option to lean on the stretched arm and ability to release one arm to grasp the toy, the child will find out that it can work with its center of the gravity.
The child will try to lean on one hand and at the same time on the side, or more specifically leaning on the side of the pelvis and a leg. In this position the child will often play because it is a stable position. The baby won’t need to lay on the stomach anymore, in order to inspect the acquired toy. At first, child will be slightly unstable in this tilted sitting position, it will help itself by leaning on a bent arm, as well as leaning on the elbow and forearm, side of the pelvis and stretched leg, meanwhile the other leg will be freely resting. As soon as the child becomes confident in this position, it will continue to experiment.
The baby will lean against a stretched arm, or basically only a hand, and one side of the pelvis and bent leg. The second leg will be freely resting in front of the body or by placing the sole of the foot on the ground. This is a clear sign for your, that it won’t take long, and the child will try to stand up by itself!
Hands of your child now so skilled, that the baby will learn to grasp objects only by index fingers and thumb, alternatively middle finger. That way the child can easily put smaller bits of food easily into the mouth.
Beware of premature standing or sitting!
It is a big mistake, when mother or relatives want to speed up the development of children, by standing or sitting them up.
Because the child tends to grow to do these things alone, it helps to strengthen the bones structures, muscles and ligaments. If the child controls alone certain ability, it is a sign that the musculoskeletal system of the child is strong enough, to carry the weight of the child.
If the child is prematurely seated, and it didn’t yet grow to the control this ability it can lead to damage of the ligaments, but also bone structure and it can cause permanent damages.
The effect of prematurely sitting the baby and forcing the child to stand can result it:
- Scoliosis of the spine
- Flat feet
- Legs in a O or X shape
- Rotating the legs while walking etc.
When is the right time to get a baby walker?
From the above mentioned informations it is clear, that we should not rush. Therefore please don’t sit up or stand your children, don’t force them to walk along, don’t use baby walkers, or any other devices meant for infants, if their motor development didn’t mature yet to where they can keep a straight body posture.
Published in magazine Uzliček, no 7/2007
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic