So, Jia isn’t going to crawl. Doesn’t want to. My guess is there are two things that contribute to this: she’s not in day-care around other babies thinking “oh wow that looks cool, let me try!” and the only consistent examples of crawling on all fours are her fur siblings, Kona and Mei-Mei. I think she realizes she’s more like us than her siblings. She’s had plenty of tummy time, too. I actually don’t mind, I welcome her current lack of all-fours mobility. It helps me run to the bathroom or kitchen with the comfort of knowing she’s probably only backwards-scooted at most, a foot from where I left her 5 seconds ago.
Many babies never crawl and instead go straight to cruising/standing then onto walking. Though crawling is a milestone, it’s not a developmental requirement. Additionally, pediatricians think that the push for “Back to Sleep,” the public health campaign that has drastically decreased the number of cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has contributed to less children crawling these days. Since babies are spending more times on their backs than on their tummies, their back and torso muscles may not be as strong as before “Back to Sleep” began. According pediatricians (cited on Parenting.com), studies have not shown any negative developmental outcome associated with skipping the milestone of crawling.
After a couple months of trying to get her to crawl, we figured it was safe to assume she’s not going for it. So, for the past month-ish, we have been encouraging Jia to hold onto stationary objects, like the coffee table or the back of the bench in our yard, to help her learn to balance and use her core muscles. She’s become a champ and can hold on without support, and if she feels herself tip to the side she (usually) pulls herself back up.
Also, we’ve used our hand-me-down walker (pictured at left; thanks Kelly and Tommy!) to introduce her to the movement of taking steps. Excited that she was getting better and better each day, I went to get her some “shoes,” to help her grip the ground a little better and to protect her little feet.
A lot of you new parents out there have probably received the weekly e-mail from BabyCenter that updates you on the progress your baby has made with regards to developmental milestones, expectations, and recommendations. I really love these e-mails, because they let me know what’s going on with Jia, the rest of her “birth club” (babies born the same week), and what I can expect in the coming weeks. I started receiving these while pregnant, from downloading the BabyCenter app. If you haven’t signed up for these emails, I highly recommend them. Even if you’re pregnant. They give great suggestions for solid foods and are tailored to your baby’s age, reference the American Academy of Pediatrics in many articles and have a medical advisory board. They are fantastic. (links to apps at bottom of this entry) You can sign up for weekly newsletters here.
Anyway, this week was my “Your 8-month-old: Week 2” e-mail and in it was a headline for “How to encourage standing and cruising.” Curious, I clicked and clicked, And then I clicked over to the AAP.
Here’s a summary:
1) Most babies learn to show desire to crawl at around 7 to 10 months. This is give or take a couple months. Babies need to learn to sit without support, look back and forth, and will often rock back and forth. Around 9 to 10 months they learn to go from all fours and back to a sitting position. The AAP encourages parents to spend time with their babies teaching them to crawl, as it is an important part of development. But, they also say that as long as your baby is trying to coordinate arm and leg movement, there is no cause for concern. Scooting, lunging, etc. are all examples.
2) To prepare your baby to crawl, practice lots of tummy time. Use appealing objects placed just out of her reach, as incentive for baby to try to move towards. My husband is a techy guy, so we have devices galore in our house. Naturally, Jia is often fixated on our iPhones and iPads and whatever else has a touch screen. So, in attempt to incentivize her to crawl, we (sigh, yes, I am embarrassed to admit this) have placed our phones a few feet in front of her. For us, still no luck. But, it’s a tried and true method and the experts all agree that babies at least need opportunities to practice the skill.
3) Consider retiring your changing table. The AAP says that since babies are so eager to roll, twist, turn, grab objects, suck on toes, pull items towards themselves, and are always on the move, use the floor as a much safer changing spot. Don’t ever leave your baby for even a second, because in a split second, that little sprout will be on the go!
4) Stairs are off-limits. According to the AAP, stairs are dangerous until your baby reaches around 18 months old, when he’s more likely mastered the art of walking. Not that your baby is really ALONE, alone… just don’t allow him to play on or near stairs, without your physical support. Close off the area with baby gates at the top and bottom. When your baby becomes a “confident crawler” you can teach him to scoot down a couple of steps backwards. Until then, they recommend foam block “steps.”
5) Shoes, Shoes, Shoes! Carter’s sells an “Every Step” shoe line for the crawling, standing, and walking phases. They are not really necessary, aside from getting your little one used to the feeling of shoes on their feet. The AAP says shoes are not necessary until your baby starts to walk, and until then, a good pair of socks with non-skid bottoms are best. Shoes for developing muscles and bones should be soft all around and should not restrict movement. They should fit comfortably and NOT tight. Soles should be flexible, to the point where you can easily bend the shoe in half between your thumb and index finger, and they should have non-skid bottoms. Just make sure to check their fit regularly, so that your sprout is not trying to walk with too-small shoes. For Jia, I love grippy non-skid socks or sueded slippers so her little feet can grab the floor when we try to walk together.
6) Walkers don’t encourage walking. The AAP actually discourages the use of walkers, stating that their use actually discourages them from doing so. They say that walkers actually “eliminate the desire to walk,” and can even be hazardous with the potential to tip over when bumped into objects. They suggest using a stationary walker or activity center. Ha, guess we will just be using it as a “here you go, now mommy can try and cook dinner,” toy. Actually, I read somewhere (I’m blanking where) that the best way to teach your baby to walk is to stand in front of or behind your baby and hold their hands or under their armpits to encourage the motions, so I do that a lot.
7) Once your baby learns to stand herself up, teach her how to get down. Babies are so excited to master standing up with support but it can be frightening (to them) when they don’t know how to get back down. The AAP says that instead of putting your baby back down on her bottom, help her by bending her knee one at a time, to teach her the movement of getting down so she can practice.
8) Childproof once your baby becomes mobile. Whether this is by crawling, cruising, or walking. Babies like getting into mischief. Well in their defense, it’s not mischief, it’s INTENSE CURIOSITY!!!! Aside from the obvious toilet guards, outlet covers, cabinet straps, and various threatening items within reach of baby (nailclippers, phone chargers, screws, pens, hand sanitizer, McDonald’s Monopoly Play to Win stickers that can be chewed and swallowed… I’m literally looking at my coffee table as I type this), here’s a good list of things to watch for, from the AAP. Some pediatricians recommend getting on all fours or on your tummy to see at eye-level what your baby sees. Oh, pet food. Gross.
Remember, babies follow different timetables for basically everything. Don’t panic if your baby hasn’t reached a certain milestone if a baby who was born a month later, has. This doesn’t mean that you’re not a diligent parent or that your child is delayed. As long as they are happy, learning, and their doctor isn’t concerned, then soak it all in and enjoy your little ones’ immobility while it lasts. Because once it starts, it doesn’t stop! (This is what keeps me thankful that she’s content with moving at her own pace!)
Next Week’s Topic: Protect Your Sprout from the Flu!
BabyCenter – Developmental Milestone Walking: http://www.babycenter.com/0_developmental-milestone-walking_6507.bc?page=1
The American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org – Movement 8-12 Months: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Movement-8-to-12-Months.aspx
The American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org – Childproofing Your Home: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Childproofing-Your-Home.aspx
BabyCenter My Pregnancy Today App: http://www.babycenter.com/my-pregnancy-today-app
BabyCenter My Baby Today App: http://www.babycenter.com/my-baby-today-app
BabyCenter Newsletters: http://www.babycenter.com/newsletters