Baby Milestones – Which ones are important and why?
Everyday I am awestruck by how amazing it is that my children started out as a wee baby and with no external help have learned to roll, sit, crawl and walk all by themselves. The innate wisdom in their bodies of knowing how to do these extremely difficult tasks is beyond my comprehension
To contrast, 12 years ago, my Grammie was in a car accident that was deemed catastrophic. At the time, she was labeled as a paraplegic and ended up in a wheelchair. I found it difficult to watch her struggle to relearn how to move her body and how to do simple tasks that used to be so easy.
Now, I watch my 1-year-old son… He has taught himself how to climb up on a box, climb onto the couch, then quickly turn around and scoot off the edge to repeat this little cycle again.
Ontogenesis is the development of an individual organism or anatomical or behavioural feature from the earliest state to maturity. It captures our body’s innate drive to develop within our surroundings. These patterns are inborn and should be left to develop at their physiological pace through maturity of each movement. 99.9% of children have this inborn ability.
It all starts with our newborns at birth. They have very flexed hands with their fists and their legs held close to their torsos, which is known as the fetal position. But as time goes on, their brains will develop connections between intuition, thought and movement. As babies develop higher thinking, they are driven to move to complex movements. These occur automatically and in a predictable sequence (as long as there is no interference).
I will quickly go over the major milestones but please realize that there are even more parts to each phase.
At least this will give you a quick overview:
At 6 weeks, newborns thumbs will move from inside a closed fist to outside their closed fist. They will start to establish full eye contact.
By 3 months, babies will open their fist and support themselves on their elbows and should be able to rotate their head independently.
4 ½ months brings the ability to develop contralateral support (opposite knee and elbow). This will initiate the closure of their diastasis rectus (Yes – all babies have a diastasis that they heal themselves!). Their diaphragms flatten as they develop a mature breathing pattern. Their free hand is capable of grabbing objects but can not cross the midline.
Around 6 months, your baby will be able to roll from back to belly with intention and grab their own feet with their hands. This helps them to use their pelvic floor while creating proper intra abdominal pressure.
Babies will start rocking backwards on hands and knees when they are around 7 months old. This is an important position for building posterior chain and external rotator development. Many parents think this is an irrelevant stage (although cute) but please remember that it is important!
By 8 months, they may begin to creep forward with the use of their upper body. Oblique sit begins at this age as well, which means they can begin to support themselves on their one elbow and eventually on their open hands. With the oblique sit position, they will be able to transition to full sit, kneel, crawl, bear or squat. This stage is so incredibly important. The oblique sit is pictured below.
A note about crawling:Crawling is an important milestone to hit for children. It allows humans to develop optimal activation of anatomical slings and equal distribution of muscle pull in regards to the posterior and anterior chains. The amount of people who tell me that their children didn’t cross-crawl properly is large! If this is the case for your child, steps should be taken to remove opportunity for standing. This is because the stability in the core that crawling achieves is crucial for higher movements throughout the lifespan.
Around 10-12 months, babies will start to stand freely, walk between objects and step forward. While at 14-16 months we will start to see your children free standing and bear crawling.
Please remember that the age at which we go through these patterns is not as important as the sequence.
Without hitting all milestones, dysfunction will show up later in life.
BUT if you’re child is not reaching a milestone or is older and skipped one of these steps, please reach out. There are things you can do to help your children to progress properly and we just want the best for all children!
All information is based on DNS principles by the Prague School of Rehabilitation and BIRTHFIT’s developmental kinesiology.