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Tracking Your Baby’s Development

Tracking your baby’s growth is more than just monitoring their height and weight gain in the early months. Even though babies develop at their own pace, every baby should meet the infant milestones by a certain age or early intervention is needed. Knowing the physical, speech, cognitive, and play milestones for your baby and checking to be sure they are reaching them on time is crucial to ensure that any signs of delay are evaluated by your healthcare provider.

Parents do not anticipate that their child will have a developmental delay. However, with 1 in 10 children having  ADHD, 1 in 20 having a learning disability, 1 in 88 falling within the autistic spectrum and more than 500,000 premature babies born annually, parents need to monitor their child’s developmental milestones more than ever. Early detection with early intervention is the key to minimizing or eliminating any issues that may arise.

An informed parent or caregiver is the best advocate and will have a better understanding of a child’s overall growth and development. All stages of development are important and should not be skipped if you want your child to progress in a normal sequence. If your child is struggling in a certain area, you can give that area a little more focus and attention until you see the emergence of the required skills. When that skill is acquired, the stage of development is reached. Various play activities and exercises should be provided to the child on a daily basis for optimal skill development.

If your toddler is 24 months and you are working on 24-month-old skills when they are developmentally at a 15-month-old level, you are setting your toddler up for failure. The activities and exercises will be too hard, and may cause frustration and avoidance of the activities. For example, if your child’s hand movements are not developed or they are not processing through their eyes efficiently, they will have difficulty with coloring, drawing, cutting and completing simple shape puzzles.

A secret to achieving higher proficiency levels is to focus on building a strong foundation of sensory integration skills. This is done through stimulation of the vestibular system, which regulates the integration all of our senses. The vestibular system can be enhanced by many activities, including:

  • Rocking
  • Swinging
  • Jumping
  • Bouncing
  • Balancing
  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Running

Sensory Integration (also called Sensory Processing) is the brain’s ability to interpret, organize and respond to the information that it receives through the senses for functional behavior. Our sensory system is made up of seven basic senses: smell, touch, taste, vision/visual perception, hearing/auditory processing, movement/balance and kinesthesia/muscle tone. Our brain receives sensory messages and turns them into responses. This helps us orient to the world around us. It helps us relax, concentrate and move safely throughout our day. The more effectively our nervous system processes the information it receives, the better our responses to the stimulus and the more coordinated or in sync we become with our environment.

Paula Tarver and Jeanne Martin are co-authors of Advance My Baby, a how-to manual for academic success, athletic prowess, emotional balance and social acceptance visit www.advancemybaby.com to learn more.

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