Category Archives: Development

Roll over after every nappy change - baby on tummy

Tummy time tips

Tummy time tips - tips for encouraging tummy timeTummy time is an extremely important part of your baby’s development, the strength and skills your baby develops whilst on her tummy help her to lift her head and look around, push up with her arms, roll over, sit up, crawl and eventually pull herself up to a standing position. You shouldn’t let the fact that ‘all babies do this eventually’ stop you from encouraging your baby’s development. Babies should ideally spend more awake time on their tummies than in car seats, on swings, sitting in chairs or lying on their backs. This also helps to avoid your baby getting a flat head (Plagiocephaly).

My baby hates tummy time

Tummy time builds strength for sitting upTummy time isn’t easy, babies are no longer used to being on their tummy, you of course have to put her on her back to sleep as this helps to mitigate against the risk of SIDS but, with a little encouragement from you and a bit of determination from you both, you will find that a gradual introduction of tummy time helps your baby get used to the idea and stops her from feeling too uncomfortable when in this position. The Motor control your baby will gain from being on her tummy develops in a ‘cephalocaudal’ fashion, which means she will first gain control of her head, then her shoulders, then her abdomen and this continues down to her feet. Developing head control first allows her to visually explore everything around her.

Introducing tummy time to a newborn

Whilst I’m not suggesting that you place your newborn on the floor as soon as you get home, you should encourage tummy time from day one.There are things you can do to get your baby used to being on her tummy so when the time comes to put her on the floor, it wont be too alien/scary or too uncomfortable.

Skin to skin

Skin to skin with newborn

Whether you are Breastfeeding or not, you should still have plenty of skin to skin contact with your newborn. As well as using this time to bond with each other, use it to get your baby used to being on her tummy. If you lie on a bed propped up by a pillow, you can place your baby on your chest so that she is leaning on you. Very often, even newborn babies start lifting their head whilst in this position and will try to look at your face. Once your baby is comfortable with this, you can then start lying flat on the bed.

Play aeroplanes

Who ever thought tummy time could be such fun? To turn your little one into a flying aeroplane, lie on the floor (on your back), lift your legs up and bend your knees so they are at a right angle, (your shins should be horizontal, parallel to the floor), place your baby on your shins so her head is on or just over your knees, support your baby under her arms and get ready for take off. Your baby will love seeing your face, hearing your aeroplane sounds and the sensation of slowly moving backwards and forwards. The added bonus to this is it’s also a fab workout for you!

Buy a gym ball

Pink Gym ball

If you don’t have a gym ball already then buy one (from £4.99), not only are they fantastic for fat loss, muscle toning and core strength but also make a fantastic, comfortable place for your newborn to get used to being on her tummy. Place the gym ball next to your baby, lean your baby onto it and simply roll her back wards and forwards for a few minutes. Be sure to fully support her and take it nice and slow and you will find with each prolonged forward roll of the ball your baby can (or at least tries to) lift her head up. If there are two of you then you can turn this into a game of peek-a-boo too by sitting opposite each other, one of you in control of the ball and baby with your partner peek-a-boo-ing!

Cuddles

Cuddles help with tummy time

Whilst you may not think cuddling is going to develop her motor skills, if you stand up and cuddle your baby as if you were winding her (so her head is above your shoulder) and allow her to support/hold her own head as much as possible then that’s exactly what you are doing. The stronger your baby becomes, the longer period of time she will be able hold her head up and look around, and the best thing of all is she can always cuddle into you if she gets tired!

Play peek-a-boo

Everyone loves a game of peek-a-boo. I recommend doing this on a bed to begin with. If you place your baby on your bed so that her head is near the edge, she won’t have to lift her head very high to gain a good view of the room and won’t feel uncomfortable as it is a softer surface. Even better, and if you are able, sit on the floor next to the bed, hide out of your baby’s view and magically re-appear in front of her eyes. Peek-a-boo! Obviously make sure that you are ensuring your baby’s safety at all times and don’t do this once your baby is able to roll over.

Roll over after every nappy change

Roll over after every nappy change - baby on tummy

Whether you are changing your little one on a changing mat or on a changing table, a good habit to get into is to roll her over after every nappy change. If you remember to do this every time she will get used to it and come to expect it. Try to incorporate it into a song such as “Ten in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over”. You can then continue singing to your little one whilst she is on her tummy, letting her know that you are still there and you are both having the time of your lives on your tummies…

Finally, get down and play

Toys for tummy time, baby playing

If your baby is comfortable lying on you, holds her head well when having a cuddle, looks around the room whilst lying on the bed, enjoys her time on the gym ball, doesn’t immediately cry when you roll her after every nappy change and enjoys being an aeroplane then you can feel confident your little one is ready to lie on the floor, on her tummy and play. The best thing you can do is lie down next to her with plenty of smiles and words of encouragement. There are some nice toys for floor play that will also help in distracting/ encouraging your baby. If she seems uncomfortable to begin with then only do this for a minute or so, it is a good idea to time how long she was on her tummy for and try to improve on that the next day.

If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, try her for just one minute to start with and increase this by 10 seconds everyday, in 4 weeks time, she will be stronger, confident, comfortable and on her tummy for at least 5 and a half minutes each and every day. After 12 weeks this will add up to around 14 minutes every day!

How did your baby cope with tummy time? Do you have any additional tips or advice that can help other parents?

When do babies start talking?

Babies generally start talking at around 12 months, this is usually simple words like “Mumma” and “Dadda”. The first time your newborn communicates with you it will not be through talking but by expressing her emotions and informing you of her needs, this happens very soon after birth. Smiling, crying, squirming, grimacing and opening her mouth etc are all natural reflexes to let you know if she is feeling hungry, frustrated, cold, hot, afraid, tired, happy, unhappy and so the list goes on. In time, parents learn how to interpret these different cries and visual cues. You can encourage language development by cooing, singing, babbling, talking and reading to your baby. Eye contact from birth is also very important. Your little ones journey from zero to 36 months is covered here. As always, these milestones are for guidance only, some start talking sooner and some start a little later, if you are concerned about your child’s development, talk to your health visitor, GP or other medical professional.

0-5 Months

  • You should start talking to your newborn as soon as she is born, babies recognise the sound and tone of your voice and are comforted by it.
  • At 12 weeks, she will look into your eyes as you talk and listen to your voice.
  • She may also turn her head towards other sounds such as voices, music, rattles and hands being clapped.
  • If you played music and spoke to her when she was in the womb then she is likely to prefer those sounds and those same voices.
  • At around 4 months babies begin making sounds.
  • Teach her how conversations work; listen to her, look her in the eyes, nod your head, repeat the same sounds back to her and await her reply.

6 months+

  • When he is around 6 months old there will be many different sounds, mainly ‘Dadda’ or ‘Babba’ (or both), these sounds do not have any meaning at this stage, this comes later (approximately 12 months).
  • At around 7 months he may be able to recognise and respond to his own name and be able to communicate his emotions by using a different tone of voice.
  • He can also recognise when people are talking in his native tongue.
  • Talking in one or two syllable words regularly and pointing out simple objects such as “car, brick, milk, Mumma, Dadda, Bye” etc. helps him on his way to saying his first words.

9 months+

  • When she is 9 months, Her talking and understanding of words has developed further.
  • She has a wide variety of differing sounds and tones.
  • She may also be able to understand a few basic words such as “hello”, “bye-bye”, “yes”, “no” and of course “mummy” and “daddy”.

12 months+

  • When he is 1 year old he may have a few simple words in his vocabulary (around 7-10).
  • Most babies can say “Mummy” or “Mumma” and “Daddy” or “Dadda” and know the meaning (unlike at 6 months)!…
  • He is likely to have a much better understanding of your requests, such as “clap your hands”, “put that down” and “up” and “down”.
  • When it comes to talking repetition is key, REPETITION IS KEY, babies are much more likely to remember and use words that are repeated to them than words that are seldom used.
  • Continue to introduce new words and phrases as well as repeating and over-using the words he is already able to say.
  • Re-enforce understanding by using a variety of methods to build associations, for example, if you go to a farm and are talking about a pig, take a picture of it, print it out when you get home, compare the picture to that of a toy/teddy pig and make some piggy sounds. This variety of methods help develop babies connections with words.
  • Commentate on everything you do and on everything your little one does. “Mummy is having a drink”. “Mummy is clapping her hands, can you clap your hands?” “We are going in the car now, can you see the car?” You will be amazed at how many words will be picked up from you commentating and talking about your everyday activities.

18 months+

  • You may be singing a lot of “Head, shoulders knees and toes” when he is approaching 18 months, if not, why not?
  • When he is around one and a half, he is able to point to parts of the body as you say them.
  • His language consists of saying approximately 20 simple words and understanding at least 50.
  • Babies at this age often repeat words that you say to them so try to keep sentences short and direct and choose the order of your words wisely; babies repeat the last word they have heard, particularly if you emphasise it.
  • As an example, if you are focusing on the word balloon, say “up goes the balloon“, if you are focusing on the word up, say “the balloon goes up“. (And don’t forget to repeat yourself).
  • If his pronunciation of words isn’t quite right then don’t worry, it is common for babies of this age to drop the endings of words.
  • To continue to encourage babies to talk, don’t correct mis-pronunciation at this age, as long as you continue to talk, he will continue to listen and learn.

2 years+

  • When she is 2 years old, you can expect her to start talking in short sentences; perhaps two to four words.
  • She will have a much better idea of how language works and will able to use it to great effect.
  • As well as being able to identify objects, she may also be able to use her language skills to inform you of more abstract ideas like “teddy-mine..” or “me-play…”
  • Encourage your child’s interest in language by reading books together and talking about/discussing the pictures. If you are not a confident reader yourself you can still enjoy books by creating your own stories from picture books and attending story telling sessions at your local libraries and children’s centres.

3 years +

  • When he is 3 years old old your child’s vocabulary will amaze you.
  • You are no longer wondering when do babies start talking, but how can I continue to improve my child’s vocabulary….
  • Be prepared for plenty of imaginary play, encourage it and enjoy it. It will help your child to have a greater understanding of how the world around him works.
  • Discuss emotions, explain and discuss different behaviour and ‘act out’ how this can make others feel. This makes for fantastic learning and often very amusing conversations.
  • Talk to your child about your day, what made you feel happy and what made you feel sad.
  • Ask your child the same questions and explore his understanding of his own emotions and help him to communicate these.

There is nothing more rewarding and nothing more enjoyable than talking with your child. Please feel free to add your comments.

What if my childs speech is delayed?

  • If your child doesn’t reach these milestones on time then don’t panic just yet, they are a guide only.
  • You should check with your GP if you are concerned about your child’s speech, particularly if you feel that it is delayed and it is not looking likely that the particular milestone will be reached in the near future.
  • Your GP will never turn you away if you have a developmental concern.
  • You should ensure that your newborn has had a hearing test before you are discharged from hospital having given birth.
  • If the results of the test are inconclusive be sure to have a follow up hearing test before he is one month old.
  • If your baby failed the hearing test, be sure to have a full hearing exam before he is 3 months. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can get the necessary help.
  • If there is no obvious reason for your child’s speech delay, you may want to see a speech therapist, this can also be arranged through your GP.
  • If your child is having problems with vocal communication, a speech therapist can diagnose, treat, advise and help your child if need be.
  • A speech therapist may recommend games for you to play and enjoy together or give your child exercises to encourage speech development.
This a an image of a 10 monmth old baby smiling in the crawling position

What age do babies crawl?

What age do babies crawl? The average age for babies to start crawling is between 7-10 months. Some crawl later than this and some don’t bother crawling at all – this is nothing to worry about, lots of babies skip crawling and of course go on to meet or even beat other developmental milestones. Before your baby crawls, he must first master the art of sitting up without any help.

What age do babies crawl? This shows an 8 month old holding her body weight on all fours, learning to crawlOnce he is able to do this the next step is to spend lots of time on all fours, to be able to crawl his arms and legs need to be strong enough to hold his body weight (in the crawling position) and his neck muscles developed enough to enable him to lift his head up and look around whilst in this position

  • The physical act of crawling will begin with a rocking motion whilst in this ‘all fours’ position.
  • It is not unusual for babies to first learn how to crawl backwards.
  • At around 8-10 months, you will find he will most likely be able to go from a sitting position to a crawling position and back again, he may have developed his own style of crawling by this age too.
  • By 12 months old most babies will have mastered the art of crawling; this is when they can move one arm and the opposite leg at the same time. It is then that he will be speeding around the floor.
  • If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend that you look at childproofing your home.
  • If you are worried that your little one hasn’t shown any signs of wanting to crawl or you are worried about his development at any age, you should see your health visitor and discuss this with them, they will be able to give you information and advice based on your individual circumstances.

This is a picture of a 8 month old baby in the crawling position. The baby has blue eyes and a cheeky look on her face

  • It is thought that the back to sleep campaign to reduce SIDS has slightly delayed the average crawling age, the reason for this being that newborns don’t tend to spend as much time on their tummies as they did before the back to sleep campaign began in 1994 (now called the safe to sleep campaign).

What are the different styles of crawling?

There are 5 main different styles of crawling:

  • Army– He uses his arms and legs at the same time in a crawling motion but his body is in continuous contact with the floor.
  • Inchworm– This technique involves momentarily entering the crawling position before lurching forwards onto his tummy.
  • Bum shuffle – Whilst sitting on the floor, your little one will lean forwards, place his hands flat on the floor, support his own weight and shuffle forwards on his bum.
  • Bear– Only hands and feet are in contact with the floor as he manoeuvres around your house.
  • Standard– Your little ones hands, knees, feet and possibly shins are in contact with the floor as he simultaneously moves his arms and legs, effortlessly moving around the house.
  • As a rough guide, it is said that around 21% of babies bum shuffle and almost 50% of babies initially army crawl or use the inchworm technique.

It is just as common for babies to have just one or two crawling styles or to progress through each of them. Either way she will be absolutely revelling in her new found mobility. When babies learn new skills, they don’t necessarily forget the old ones, so don’t panic if one day she is crawling in the standard position and the next she is crawling like a bear or doing an army crawl – this is completely normal and doesn’t mean that your baby isn’t progressing.

Try to capture as many videos and pictures as you can, they spend such a short period of their lives crawling and it goes so quick, once they start walking, they won’t be spending very much time on all fours if they can help it!

What age did your baby crawl? What style did he adopt? Are you still waiting or did he not crawl at all? Please share your stories in the comments section.