From the time your infant rolls over for the first time to the time they take their first steps could be just a few months or over a year. While we here at Alzein Pediatrics know you are cheering every milestone, we also know you might have a few questions about how your baby is working their way through this physical development.
In the last few years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their developmental milestones to help your baby’s healthcare team better monitor and intervene in developmental delays. These updated milestones also give parents a better sense of what meeting, or not meeting, those milestones might mean for their child.
Baby’s first steps, which typically occurs by the 15th month, are often considered the capstone of this type of development. However, meeting the developmental milestones throughout the first year are vital to taking those steps.
For all the kicking and tumbling that was happening in utero before Baby was born, newborns aren’t all that mobile. In fact, it typically takes a month or two before babies start to gain control of their movements. Your baby’s ability to keep their head up on their own is the most important mobility milestone we look for in the first three months. By the end of month three, most babies can lift their head and chest while on their tummy. That’s why tummy time is so vitally important for newborns. It helps babies work muscles that they’ll use to keep everything upright and aligned when they start walking.
By this age, children are typically controlling their heads and upper bodies, and will begin to roll over. Control of the neck and upper body extends to the core, allowing most babies to sit upright on their own after being positioned. By six months, children begin using their legs more and may try to support weight on them, like a miniature version of the yoga position Downward Dog. Keep doing lots of tummy time and purposeful play to help babies develop their core and other muscles they need to control their bodies.
This is also the time when modifications should be made to your child’s environment to be ready when they move independently – which is going to happen a lot sooner than you think! Begin covering electric outlets, installing child proof locks on cabinets, moving unsafe objects, chemicals and more to upper cabinets, picking up small objects that can cause choking, and installing gates and fences for stairs and unsafe areas.
By 7 months old, most children will be able to roll from front to back, and by the end of the ninth month, most children are rolling every which way. All that rolling continues developing core muscles, and children can typically sit on their own or with minimal support within this time frame. From sitting, some children advance to scooting or crawling and it isn’t uncommon for some babies to pull themselves into standing positions.
Perform a safety check on your home by crawling around and noticing what’s on this low level. Tuck away cords and bolt shelves, cabinets and TVs to walls.
By 10-12 months, most babies can sit up without help and pull themselves up to a standing position. Creeping, crawling and “cruising” furniture (walking with support) are all milestones that lead to walking. You can create a supportive environment by offering positive encouragement and by introducing safe, approved toys that your child can use for physical support. These provide your child with the incentive and opportunity to get moving.
By this age, your child should be taking steps and moving into independent walking and then running.
What if one of these milestones are missed? What if your child doesn’t walk by 15 months?
Sometimes, a child might miss a milestone simply because they took a unique developmental path. For example, a child who becomes adept at scooting everywhere might not see the need to crawl. Unfortunately, without crawling, the leg and core muscles don’t develop as quickly or as strongly.
Missing a milestone doesn’t always indicate a developmental delay, but it does mean we should take a closer look. Research has shown that earlier intervention in delays produces significantly better outcomes.
Message us through your portal or call your Alzein Pediatrics provider when you are concerned your child has missed a milestone, if their head control seems unstable or not strengthening, or if your child’s muscles seem overly stiff or overly floppy. Let us know if your child seems to use only one hand, or is not rolling over, crawling or sitting.