As you know babies are born completely helpless, but they develop very quickly, and their individuality emerges in fascinating ways. Your parental role in this development can be very important and there are many ways in which you can help stimulate your baby and help them reach these milestones.
For a parent information is power and the more informed you can be the more you will be able to recognise these developmental spurts and help your baby adjust to their new and stimulating skills and sensations. Understanding this development and knowing when your baby might pass these important milestones will help you parent more responsively. However, all parents should be aware that each baby is in an individual and may not reach these milestones exactly at the predicted times. Milestones are meant for reference and are based on averages. For every individual baby genetics and personality will influence when they reach a milestone. Even so, all babies acquire skills in the same sequence; for instance, your baby will sit before they can stand.
Parents often mistakenly think that reaching a milestone is a measure of their baby’s intelligence. Your baby’s Intellect has little bearing on them learning to walk and, has more to do with their personality. Learning a new skill requires a lot of practice and they must perfect this new skill by practising it over and over again (practice makes perfect). How your baby reacts to failure during this acquisition stage can have a significant bearing on how quickly they pick up the new skill. Some babies may try the new skill, find they can’t do it, become frustrated and leave trying again for a few months. Another may try, fail, become frustrated but are still spurred on to try again until they have mastered the skill. If your baby is placid and laid-back, they may not persist with mastering the new skills with the same enthusiasm as a baby who is determined to be independent.
Parents need to know that their baby will only acquire a new skill when they are both ready and interested in doing so. However, environment can also have a large bearing on your baby’s development and providing the right amount of stimulation is important:
too little stimulation means that your baby might not develop to their full potential. Poor environment leads to poor learning. The stimulation a baby gets must match their needs.
too much stimulation can be bewildering and a ‘hot-housed’ baby will not learn new skills any faster, as their brain is not ready to take in so much information.
A baby’s physical growth is inextricably linked with their intellectual, social and emotional development. Babies will not learn a new skill until the cognitive development required for this action has been achieved. Brain development always happens before the physical development can happen. Social and emotional factors can then exert their influence. Babies learn best through play and imitation and your positive feedback is essential in this process.
Gross Motor Development Milestones (per World Health Organization data)
Sitting without support 5.9 months
Hands-and-knees crawling 8.3 months
Walking with assistance 9 months
Standing alone 10.8 months
Walking alone 12 months
These are averages and to see the complete length of the window of achievement for all the above follow this link to the WHO chart: http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/mm_windows_graph.pdf?ua=1
For example, the average for sitting with assistance is 5.9 months but the full window is from approx. 3.8 months to 9.2 months. As you can see there is quite a spread!