Is My Baby Hitting Their Milestones?
Unlike most other animals, human babies are born with very little mobile ability.
For instance, horses begin to run on their very first day of life, while in comparison, our adorable human babies must first learn to first, hold up their neck, then turn over, then sit up, then crawl, then walk (and eventually run, twirl, bounce, and dance!). As parents, it can be marvelous to watch these processes unfold in front of our eyes, but it can also be confusing to wonder if your baby is "on track."
You may wonder if you are "doing enough" to help your child reach these important mobility milestones. We hope this article can help you feel at peace with the idea of letting go of the worry by letting you know what's normal for baby milestones, and no-stress tips along the way.
What's "Normal" anyway?
You may wonder what is "normal" for your baby and their milestones. Here's a general outline to look for. If your baby is above or below these averages, don't fret, simply talk to your pediatrician if you feel worried about your baby's progress.
At about 3 months, or earlier, your baby will begin doing, what we call, 'mini push ups.' When placed on their stomach, your baby will lift their head and shoulders up high, using arms for support. These movements help them prepare for rolling over.
Giving your baby lots of "tummy time" during their first months of life can help them develop muscles that allow them to gain this neck control.
Tummy time can be as simple as laying baby on your chest then reclining back on the couch for a while. Babywearing (where baby is faced in towards you) also helps develop neck muscles. It's recommended to have at least 15 minutes of "tummy time" per day, but this can be split up into small segments throughout the day. Try experimenting with turing your baby over onto their belly after a diaper change (that's gone well) to allow them to experiment with their muscles for a while.
At 5 months your baby will probably be able to lift his head, push up on his arms, and arch his back to lift his chest off the ground. He may even rock on his stomach, kick his legs, and swim with his arms.
Your baby will be completely rolling over likely before they are 6 months old. Most of the time this occurs by babies rolling from front to back, but back to front is fine too.
Allow your baby the freedom to move around on a safe firm surface throughout the day is all you need to do to support this process.
Most babies begin sitting up independently sometime between 6 and 8 months. Using tools, such as a bumbo or Johnny Jumper, can potentially delay this process, but are fine to use so long as they don't seem to be delaying natural progression or effecting back/hip development.
The process of sitting up can look different for each baby. Some will start by rocking back and forth then swinging backs up, while others may start from a push up position.
There's nothing you need to do as the parent to help your baby with this process besides allowing them the freedom to move and experiment over time and get excited about their progress along with them.
Many babies learn to crawl between 7 months and 10 months. Your baby may opt for another method of transportation around this time, though – like bottom shuffling (scooting around on her bottom, using a hand behind and a foot in front to propel herself), slithering on her stomach, or rolling across the room.
If your baby opts for a less traditional method of locomotion, don't fret. Let them find their own stride and simply enjoy watching them grow.
Around 9-12 months, your baby may begin to take their first steps. They won't be very good at it until they are around 15 months old or so. If your baby was premature these milestones may look very different for you. Don't worry. If you feel that your baby is outside a healthy milestone pattern simple talk to your pediatrician.
Helping your baby learn to walk can be fun for you too. Start early on by holding your baby on your lap and letting their legs balance on your knees. Help them bend and straighten their knees by applying pressure to their legs with your lap. Be playful about it and have fun.
Note- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages the use of walkers for babies. Studies show they can actually slow motor development and cause back problems for babies. They are also a safety hazard, as walkers can tip over or roll down stairs. Walkers are banned for use in Canada and the AAP is recommending the U.S. take the same measure against walkers.
Help your baby sit back down once they are standing up on their own. Most babies start to get up onto their feet on their own, before they know how to get back down, so don’t be alarmed if your baby cries for help while in the standing position. Rather than pick them up when they start to fuss, help them learn to sit down by gently bending their knees and supporting their weight until they reach the floor safely.
Having a "cruiser" toy such as a push cart can be helpful for more advanced walkers, but in the beginning stick with things without wheels (such as an upside down bucket), or simply let them cruise around on the furniture. You can even move furniture closer together to let them move around a room safely.
Tell us what milestones your baby has reached most recently in the comments.