In a gradual process of baby development, a baby learns to control his body. It starts with the head then works down to the trunk, hands and legs. A lot of early movements in baby development are programmed into the tracks of the brain. Before he’s born, a baby already knows how to suck. And if something touches his cheek—the nipple or your finger, for example—he tries to reach it with his mouth.
After a few days he’s more than ready to do his part in nursing. If you try to hold his head still, he becomes angry right away and twists to free it. (Probably he has this instinct to keep from being smothered). On his own, he follows objects with his eyes, usually by about one month, if not before, and begins to reach for things.
Using their hands
As soon as they are born, some babies can put their thumbs or fingers in their mouths any time they want to. Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy show they were probably doing it before delivery. But most can’t get their hands to their mouths with any regularity until they are two to three months old. And because their fists are still clenched tight, it usually takes them longer still to separately get hold of a thumb.
At about two to three months in baby development, many babies will spend hours just looking at their hands, bringing them up until, surprised, they bang themselves in the nose—only to stretch their arms out and start all over again. This is the beginning of eye-hand coordination.
The main business of hands is to grab and handle things. A baby seems to know ahead of time what he’s going to be learning next. Weeks before he can actually grab an object, he looks as if he wants to and tries to grab it. At this stage, if you put a rattle into his hand, he holds on to it and waves it.
Around the middle of the first year of baby development, he learns how to reach something that’s brought within arm’s reach. At about this time, he’ll learn how to transfer an object from one hand to other. Gradually, he handles things more expertly. Starting around nine months, he loves to pick up tiny objects, especially those you don’t want him to (like specks of dirt), carefully and deliberately.
Right-handedness and left-handedness
The subject of handedness in children is a confusing one. Most babies use either hand equally well for the first year or two in baby development, then gradually become right- or left-handed. It is unusual for a baby to have a preference for one hand in the first six to nine months.Right- or left-handedness is an inborn trait, with approximately 10 percent of people being left-handed. Handedness tends to run in families; some families will have several lefties, others may have none. Trying to force a left-handed child to become right-handed is confusing to the brain, which has been set up to work by a different scheme. Incidentally, handedness also applies to a preference for one leg or eye over the other.
Rolling over and falling off
The age when babies roll over, sit up, creep, stand up, or walk, is more variable than the age when they get control of their head or arms. A lot depends on temperament and weight. A wiry, energetic baby is in a great rush to get moving. A plump, placid one may be willing to wait until later.
A baby, by the time she tries to roll over, shouldn’t be left unguarded on a table for even as long as it takes you to turn your back. Since you can’t really be sure when that first roll will happen, it’s safest simply to always keep at hand on your baby when she’s up high. By the time she can actually roll over, anywhere from two to six months in baby development,it is not safe to leave her even in the middle of an adult’s bed. It is amazing how fast such a baby can reach the edge, and many do fall from an adult bed to the floor, which makes a parent feel very guilty.
If, after falling from a bed, a baby cries immediately, then stops crying and regains his normal color and activities within a few minutes, he probably has not been injured. If you notice any change in behavior in the next hours or days (fussier, sleepier, not eating, for example), call your doctor or nurse practitioner and describe the event; in most cases, you will be assured that your baby is well. If your child lost consciousness, even for a short time, it’s best to call the doctor promptly.
Most babies learn to sit steadily without support at seven to nine months. But even before babies have the coordination to succeed, they want to try. When you take hold of their hands, they attempt to pull themselves up. This eagerness often raises the question in a parent’s mind: how soon can I prop my baby up in the carriage or high chair? In general, it’s better not to prop babies straight up until they can sit steadily by themselves for many minutes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pull them up to a sitting position for fun, sit them in your lap, or prop them on a slanted pillow in the carriage as long as the neck and back are straight. It’s a curled-over position that’s not good for long periods.
During early baby development, a high chair is of greatest advantage when babies are eating meals with the rest of the family. On the other hand, falling out of a high chair is worrisome and not uncommon. If you are going to use a high chair, get one with a broad base, so that it doesn’t tip over easily, and always use the strap to buckle your baby in. Don’t ever leave a baby alone in a chair, high or low.
Squirming while being changed
One of the things babies never learn is that they ought to lie still while being changed or dressed. It goes completely against their nature. From the time they learn to roll over until about one year, when they can be dressed standing up, they may cry indignantly or struggle against lying down as if they have never heard of such an outrage.
There are a few things that help a little. One baby may be distracted by a parent who makes funny noises, another by a small bit of cracker or cookie. You can have an especially fascinating toy, like a music box or a special mobile that you offer only at a dressing time. Distract your baby just before you lay her down; don’t wait until she starts yelling.
Creeping and crawling
Creeping—when your baby begins to drag himself across the floor—can begin any time between six months and one year of baby development. Crawling—when your baby gets up on his hands and knees and moves about—usually starts a few months after creeping. Occasionally, some perfectly normal babies never creep or crawl at all; they just sit around until they learn to stand up.
There are a dozen different ways of creeping and crawling, and babies may change their style as they become more expert. One first learns to creep backward, another sideways, like a crab. One wants to crawl on her hands and toes with her legs straight, another on his hands and knees, still another on one knee and one foot. The baby who learns to be a speedy creeper may be late in walking; the one who is a clumsy creeper or never learns to creep at all has a good reason for learning to walk early.
Standing usually comes in the last quarter of the first year of baby development, though a very ambitious and motorically advanced baby may stand as early as seven months. Occasionally you see one who doesn’t stand until after one year though seeming to be bright and healthy in all other respects. Some of these are plump, easygoing babies. Others just seem to be slow getting coordination in their legs. I wouldn’t worry about such children as long as your doctor or nurse practitioner finds that they are healthy and they seem fine in other ways.
Quite a number of babies get themselves into a jam when they first learn to stand up but don’t yet know how to sit down again. The poor things stand until they are frantic with exhaustion. The parents take pity on their boy and unhitch him from the railing of his playpen and sit him down. He instantly forgets all about his fatigue and pulls himself to his feet again. This time he cries within a few minutes.
The best a parent can do is to give him especially interesting things to play with while he’s sitting, wheel him in the carriage longer than usual, and take comfort in the fact that he’ll probably learn how to sit down within a week. One day he tries it. Very carefully he lets his behind down as far as his arms reach and, after a long moment of hesitation, plops down. He finds that it wasn’t such a long drop and that his seat is well padded.
As the weeks go by, he learns to move around while hanging on, first with two hands, then with one. This is called cruising. Eventually he has enough balance to let go altogether for a few seconds when he is absorbed and doesn’t realize what a daring thing he’s doing. He is getting ready for walking.
Lots of factors determine the age at which a baby walks alone: inheritance probably plays the largest role, followed by ambition, heaviness, how well she can get places by creeping, illnesses, and bad experiences. A baby who is just beginning to walk when an illness lays her up for two weeks may not try again for a month or more. One who is just learning and has a fall may refuse to let go with her hands again for many weeks.
Most babies learn to walk between twelve and fifteen months of baby development. A few muscular, ambitious ones start as early as nine months. A fair number of bright children do not begin until eighteen months or even later. You don’t have to do anything to teach your child to walk. When her muscles, her nerves, and her spirit are ready, you won’t be able to stop her. (The devices called walkers don’t help babies to learn to walk sooner and are unsafe).
Bowlegs, toeing in, toeing out
During baby development, a parent of an early walker may worry that it’s bad for the baby’s legs. As far as we know, children’s physiques are able to stand whatever they’re ready to do by themselves. Babies sometimes become bowlegged or knock-kneed in the early months of walking but this happens with both late walkers and early walkers. Most babies toe out to some degree when they start to walk then gradually bring the front part of the feet in as they progress.
Some start with the feet sticking right out to the sides, like Charlie Chaplin, then end up toeing out only moderately. The average baby starts toeing out moderately and ends up with the feet almost parallel. The baby who starts out with feet almost parallel is more apt to end up toeing in. toeing in and bowlegs often go together.
How straight the legs, ankles, and feet grow depends on several factors. Some babies seem to have a tendency to knock-knees and ankles that sag inward. The heavy child is more apt to develop these conditions. Other babies seem to be born with a tendency to bowlegs and toeing in. I think this is especially true of the very active, athletic ones.
Another factor may be the position babies keep their feet and legs in. For instance, you occasionally see a foot that becomes turned in at the ankle because the baby always sit with that foot tucked under him in that position. It’s possible that some babies develop toeing in by always lying on their stomachs with their feet pointed toward each other. Now that we know that sleeping on the stomach increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the problem is less common.
Your doctor or nurse practitioner, during the regular examinations, will watch the ankles and legs from the time the baby begins to stand up. This is one reason why regular visits are important during the second year of baby development. If weak ankles, knock-knees, bowlegs, or toeing up develop, corrective measures may be recommended, but most of these conditions resolve themselves over time.
Check out the below video in which Dr. David Hill advices on Baby development –