5 Ways to Help Your Baby Reach Their Movement Milestones

Ameena Aliyu-Beighton

I remember my first child was quite an early bloomer. Some kids are literally walking before they can crawl. This doesn’t make them smarter or better than their counterparts. It simply means that something else has got your baby’s preference / attention at that point. They simply take on learning different skills at different times. Your role is to create an environment that will facilitate the movement milestones you’d like to see.

That said, being a bit freer and less protective of your baby tumbling over is a good place to start to getting him active and moving. Once you get your head around this fact and provide a safe environment for trial and error, you will be well on your way to encouraging movement.

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Here are 5 basic tips:

1. Tummy time
Tummy time is a fantastic way of getting your baby used to being on and using her/his hands and feet to propel themselves forward. They initially learn that they can push themselves up with their arms after which the legs will follow.
You can start this once your baby has head control, which is usually around 3 to 6 months. The horse and carrot trick is a good way to get them excited about tummy time.

What to do:
Start with at least a week of getting your baby used to lying and playing on his tummy. Setting a squeaky toy with different textures for her/him to explore is a good idea.
You can then move onto strategically placing an irresistible toy (or your phone) just out of reach. Do this on a bed or a play mat on the floor with lots of room to manoeuvre. Put the toy further away each time you do it as your baby gets older and used to the motions.
20 minutes of tummy time per day is sufficient. You will be surprised to see your baby do a variation of crawling before they can sit.

READ ALSO: Baby & Toddler Milestones: Red Flags To Watch Out For

2. Rollie Pollies
This is one of the first things your baby learns to do at around 4 to 6 months and brings an end to leaving the baby unattended for even a second outside the safety of a cot. All that tummy time has earned her/him some arm and tummy muscles, which s/he will use to push up and eventually roll over. This can happen either by accident or in a bid to crab a toy. Again the horse and carrot trick works wonders in encouraging rolling. Once baby realises how fun this is, s/he will repeat this often. If your baby is trying to sit as well, falling over could lead to an accidental roll which will further encourage a fresh attempt.

3. Lunges
From five/six  to seven months, your baby can either sit by her/himself or with some support. They also tend to lunge forward while trying to reach an attractive toy, the remote control or your phone; whichever is closest at the time. It is purely by accident that s/he lands on all fours and then tumbles sideways, much to their delight. It is this new discovery that encourages them to try this new trick they learned all on their own.

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4. Crawling
There are all sorts of crawling styles out there, depending on what your very unique baby decides is the most  efficient way to get around.

There is the bum crawl, the popular front crawl and the very tricky to pull off bum in the air with feet flat on all fours crawl, to name a few.

Those tummy, arm and leg muscles that they have built playing on their backs and fronts during tummy time will be very useful to carry out this mobility exercise.
After mastering lunges, your baby may spend a few weeks getting her/his stance steady. You will probably notice a rocking movement until they feel safe enough to take off.

What to do:
Lots of floor play time in loose fitting clothing that will allow free movement.

5. Walkies
There is no age restriction here. Some babies walk before they can crawl. What’s important is being in tune and watching how your child is developing, which is unique to him/her. This will help you determine what they seem ready or strong enough to do.

READ ALSO: 8 Simple Ways to Develop Your Baby Through Play (Part One)

What to do:

Encourage your child to pull her/himself up using the support of a couch or even you. Do not be discouraged if they fall. They can bounce right back up and try again; a good lesson well worth learning in all aspects of life.

Walkers are not necessarily helpful. What may be beneficial are bouncers with mirrors knobs and twisty things that baby can sit in and learn to use her/his leg muscles to push up or twist her/himself around.

Remember to always keep an eye on your baby.

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