This was extremely puzzling, since we have found that in the majority of cases, an infant will learn these skills without adult assistance and often before the parent realizes they are capable of these accomplishments. For the most part, these skills are self taught.
We requested details of his experiences to date and discovered that he had been:
-Kept in a sleep bag for both nap and night times until he was nine months.
-Had very little “bellytime” during awake hours.
-Sleeping on his back for all sleep times.
-Often in a car seat and if he fell asleep, remained there for his full nap time.
-Never encouraged to be independently mobile.
Since his health was great and he had no physical ailments including his bone development, it was clear that his delay was the result of his environment.
After one month, he was already crawling forward and backward, doing the “buttshuffle” and working hard toward accomplishing his crawling efforts with his arms and thighs extended.
Obviously, with a lot of effort and practice he is going to catch up, because we are all now making his path to success a priority. But what should have occurred naturally is now a lot of work for everyone and may have led to serious problems if we had not become involved.
Here are our suggestions that will allow development to occur naturally.
1. We are committed to having our children sleep on their belly from birth or at least three month of age. Please refer to guidelines on this from the CDC.
2. Whether you choose to have your child sleep on their back or stomach, do not use confining clothing. Make sure their sleepwear is loose enough for movement. A traditional pajama will provide warmth and ease of movement.
3. If your child is sleeping on their back then awake time should be on their belly.
4. Set the mattress low enough that the child can pull themselves up to the top bar in the crib and be safe.
5. Usually once they can turn over on their own, many parents move them to belly sleeping. It is a sounder sleep, more developmentally beneficial and often reduces the child’s habit of playing in their bed.
6. During awake time, once they can sit up on their own, a playard will be safe and easily managed environment allowing your child to pull themselves up and develop/reinforce their leg muscles. It is also a safe area for their first steps as well as ongoing practice.
7. Time in a car seat, stroller, swing, bouncy chair, should be kept to a minimum.
When children are provided with the most supportive and beneficial first year their physical development is usually an effortless success!