This part of our series about psychomotor development will be imaginative end of the yearlong effort of our children. 11th and 12th month of life are in the psychomotor development of the child very important. In the last twelve months when we observed step by step our children who were not very skilled, but grew to be stronger, curious and ever-present toddlers. (previous part of the serie).
In this month your toddler should know all the learned abilities to the extent where it should do no problems.
Kneeling on all fours
The child should be stable in position kneeling on all fours, so much so that it would be able to relieve on hand to grasp a toy with it, and then sit down with the toy to a straight sitting posture with straight back, and freely stretched legs in front, and play with the toy in this position. Everything is done so that the child wouldn’t have to significantly balance back and forth.
If the child sees an interesting object in any distance, it should have no coordination problem to get to the toy, person or object which caught the attention of the child, and with a mature creeping on all fours get to the object (method which was described in the 9th month). Your child should be also able to stand up by the furniture, by lunging forward, and switching both legs.
And what new activities will the child learn?
Standing in the beginning looks like the child has “locked” knees (knees are as much as possible stretched out without the option of slight bending). To that are connected also other changes in the body posture. At first the child may have tilted pelvis forwards, which you may observe when the child pushes out the bottom, round belly, shoulders are pulled up towards the ears, head is slightly pushed forward. Hands are firmly holding the object, and often it is very hard to take the object from the child’s hands.
The child alone is not able to let go of the object, and it takes a while till there is a release. Similarly as the child has clenched fists and it holds the object firmly, the same way the toes on the foot are clenched into the mat. It may seems as if the child holds itself by feet as well. Only after some time and certain amount of exercises, the child will relax and will become comfortable in the standing position. The knees will be relaxed, and the fists will be opened.
The child will be able to work better with the new center of gravity, tilting the pelvis backwards, pulling the belly in, relaxing the shoulders, stretching out the neck and placing the head into the axis of the whole body, instead of pushing it forwards. The toes on the feet will be also relaxed.
As another proof that the child is able to stand without any problems, is the fact that it can alone sit down from the standing position to a squat, in order to lift up a toy, and get up back again from the squat.
As soon as your child will be able to relax the hand (one hand will be always used for holding on to something, so that the child wouldn’t fall down), it will try to reach for the toy or object it sees and is close to. The child will therefore try to reach with a hand to the side as far as possible to grasp the object and pull it close.
If the child is already experienced enough with standing (and is standing for example right next to the coffee table), and decides to hold on to the coffee table which is little bit further, and makes a small step. The second leg and arm will follow as well. This movement is repeated several times, as much as the child needs, in order to get to a more distant toy. It is a so called quadrupedal locomotion which means that the child is used all four extremities for walking in a standing position.
This way the child is able to walk few meters, and therefore we recommend you to be alert! What the child couldn’t reach before, is now without any problems accessible more and more, and the child can surprise you, not only positively.
Getting past obstacles
If you place the child in front of a low object, it will be able to get over this obstacle.
Beware of the mistakes suggesting an incorrect development of the child!
I would like to warn you on the mistakes that children often do, and they are often forgiven with the excuse that many children do that. Mothers often times do not know that their child does make some mistakes. However the mistakes are a sign of incorrect development of the child and I recommend you to start to stimulate your child, so that it would lead to correction of the wrong coordination in time, instead of continuing to do these mistakes, which would only cumulate and affect the further development of the child.
Sitting between heels
Sitting between heel is the most common mistake. It is true that there are many children who sit this way, but this way of sitting is not evaluated as a correct body posture. Children who are not able to sufficiently strengthen the abdomen, pelvis muscles, back muscles etc., chose sitting between heels. Sitting straight is not comfortable for the child, because it cannot find stability, and therefore the child doesn’t play in this position.
If the child places its pelvis between the legs, due to the wider base the child feels safer and more comfortable. Inner rotation in the hip, which is without a doubt present by this sitting posture in both hips, but it doesn’t have a positive effect on formation of the shape of the head of the thigh bone and the socket in the pelvic bone.
Obstacle sitting posture
Another incorrect sitting posture is obstacle sitting posture. This type is similar to sitting between heels. Again, one leg is fixing the pelvis, forming a more stable base, and the hip joint is again rotated inwardly.
Keeping the head forwards
Third common mistake is when the child keep its head permanently pushed forward, bulging belly, shoulders are close to the ears etc. These mistakes can manifest in any position or during any activity, whether the child sits, crawls or tries to turn from the stomach to back and vice versa, walking, running and so on. Similarly as it was by the previous two points , even here is this posture a sign of lower muscle tension (hypotonia).
Walking independently? Till the end of 1. Year
The child will learn to walk by the end of the 1st year. Meanwhile it will be able to stand next to the furniture and do first steps into the free space, it still has to train walking around the furniture. Coordinately it is demanding process and the child needs enough time, till it will leave the furniture area to walk towards you.
Learning to walk is very demanding process. The child clenches its fists, in order to manage this task. Child becomes confident with walking around 15th month.
What new activities will the child learn?
Walking into the room
In the 12th month you child should dare to walk into the free “space”. The child has to first relax the hand and instead of placing the arm further apart the body, the child has to manage to turn in the trunk backwards. Rotation of the trunk is also nothing easy.
If the child will manage to do a first step to the side, it will stand sideways towards the object, by which it stands. The distance between the furniture and people around which the baby tries to walk, is at first very small. It can be only few tens of centimeters. It is important for the child to have assurance, that when it tilts its center of the gravity forward, that it could hold on to something. Your child is learning to control its center of the gravity and basically the whole movement forward. Walking is therefore only „catching up” with the center of the gravity, which is constantly in front of the center of the body.
Given to the fact that beginnings are not easy, the child chooses to keep the body in such position in which it is completely comfortable. The baby is again tilting the pelvis forward and you can observe that the bottom and belly are pushed out. Shoulders are pulled up closer to the ears, arms are bending in the elbows. Children often close their hands into a fist in the beginnings.
While the child is trying new abilities it returns back to the newborn body posture, which is in the beginning of achieving new abilities normal. These imperfections where the child for example slouches the back, shoulders are held high close to the ears, the child is unstable, and has a tendency to fall down, should be only short term (approximately first 2 weeks). The child should soon learn to walk with a correct body posture.
New shoes? Be patient!
The child gets slightly backwards in the development, when wearing shoes for the first time. It is a new thing, therefore the child will have a tendency to get back into the original body posture. It will be the same when the child will walk at home, in the known environment, it will be completely different than if you place the child on a sidewalk, grass, in front of a slight hill etc. The child will be always under new condition on a new terrain less confident. The child will gain completely confident body posture around 15th month.
Climbing on the furniture
The child is able to climb up the furniture, and climb back down. But be alert! Department of pediatric surgery accepts high number of children who fall from unspecified height. The head of the child is compared to the body proportionally heavier than head of an adult, and therefore a fall from a height usually ends by hitting the head.
Standing without any support
The child is able to stand alone without any support for a short period of time, even without clenching the toes into the ground. Standing becomes relaxed.
End of drooling and chewing objects
The child stops to put objects into its mouth.
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOUR BABY
Your child came a long way in the psychomotor development in a relatively short amount of time. Big part of the development is still ahead. However after reaching the 1st year of life, your baby stops being an infant, and becomes a curious and active toddler.
Published in magazine Uzlíček, no:9/2007
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic