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In my work as a pediatric occupational therapist, I see parents stressing out all of the time because another child meets milestones – like rolling over or sitting up – and their baby hasn’t quite gotten there yet.
As a mom myself, I get it. It can cause serious anxiety if we see our friends’ children mastering new skills before our kids do.
But the truth is, all babies develop on their own timelines. While there is some general guidance for when milestones typically happen, it’s not an exact science. Some babies will learn to roll over, sit up, or walk a little sooner – or a little later – than others, and they are all still considered developmentally on track.
Of course, we all want to see our babies thrive, which is why I partnered with BabyCenter to make a virtual, on-demand course called Meeting Physical Milestones Through PlayOpens a new window. In the course, I walk parents through expected developmental timelines (while emphasizing that there is a wide range of what’s considered “normal”), and I also present dozens of fun play ideas for your baby’s first year that promote healthy development.
I feel strongly that when parents are informed of what to expect and given the tools they need to help their babies learn through play, this can not only save everyone a lot of anxiety – but also actually help babies gain new skill mastery.
Comparing your baby to someone else’s won’t help them reach milestones any faster – it will just create a lot of anxiety for you. Instead, I recommend putting the focus back on your baby. Look at what they can do, not what they can’t do. In most cases, this can help you see that they’re making progress in their own way.
You can also help your child build their physical development skills via purposeful play. The key is to give your baby plenty of opportunities to practice. And make them fun!
For example, if your baby is having trouble lifting up their head or rolling over, you can make an effort to increase their daily tummy time, which can help them build the strength needed for both of these skills. It’s also a good idea to make the practice more enjoyable by introducing a baby-safe mirror or getting on the floor with them so you’re face-to-face while they’re in tummy time. (These are just a couple of the ideas for playing with your baby that I go through in the BabyCenter Courses class Meeting Physical Milestones Through PlayOpens a new window.)
If you’re worried about a developmental delay, you should absolutely call your pediatrician and discuss your concerns with them. Your child’s doctor may tell you to just give your child a bit more time, and in most cases, this is all that’s needed. If your pediatrician does think your child could benefit from some extra help, they’ll connect you with a specialist to make that happen.
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I also recommend all parents check out my Meeting Physical Milestones Through PlayOpens a new window class. At just $45, it’s a great way to arm yourself with information that will help you feel more confident navigating your baby’s milestones – not to mention play time!