Is Your Baby Developing Normally?

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Is your baby a slow developer?

What's 'normal' can range by as much as six months from baby to baby. All babies vary widely in the rate at which they reach milestones such as sitting, crawling and walking.
The majority of babies do develop normally despite parent's worries. And it can be worrying if you feel your baby seems slower than other babies in developing. But most parents really have no need to worry at all.
'The key thing is to enjoy your baby without wishing her babyhood away,' says health visitor Christine Bidmead, 'although there is plenty you can do to encourage your child. Babies need opportunities and lots of practice to progress.'

Why you might be worried
Development, especially motor skills, depends on brain maturity which can't be hurried along. Only a tiny proportion of babies show long-term problems with delayed development. But, if you are worried, do get help from your health visitor or GP, who can refer you to a specialist. Consider seeking advice:
  • If your baby shows no signs of rolling or crawling by 10-11 months
  • If your baby's head seems floppy when sitting or she shows no signs of sitting alone by nine months
  • If you feel your baby consistently doesn't hear what you say, or if she generally avoids eye contact and doesn't seem to 'connect' with you

How to encourage her to: Roll
Babies may roll from around four and a half months, though many won't until eight months or later. Let your baby lie on a mat or bed and hold her hands so you can pull her gently from side to side. Says Susie, mum to Harry, five months: 'Harry has a baby gym which really encourages large body movements like rolling.'

How to encourage her to: Sit

Your baby may start sitting from around six months, using her arms as props at first; independent sitting may happen at 8-9 months. Your baby will enjoy pulling herself up to sitting if you hold your hands out to her. She'll also love being held in a sitting position on your lap. Both these "exercises" strengthen her back muscles and make her more ready to sit unaided. Says Debbie, mum to Michael, six months: 'I prop Michael with loads of cushions so he can see what's going on - hopefully it also gives him the idea of sitting.'

How to encourage her to: Crawl
Your baby may crawl from around seven months, though many babies won't crawl until nine months or later. Around 10 percent of babies never crawl at all and go straight on to walking. Give your baby plenty of opportunities to crawl, dress her in comfy clothes, and give her lots of floor space. Says Natasha, mum to Georgia, eight months: 'I put Georgia's favourite toy just out of reach so she has to crawl to get it, or I ask her to crawl to me for a game.'

How to encourage her to: Get on her feet
Your baby may start pulling herself up from around nine months and may stand while holding on to objects from around 10 months. By 12 months, most babies can stand well alone, and may even take a first step. Allow her curiosity free rein as inquisitive babies will stand up to explore what's around them. Says Mair, mum to Ewan, 10 months: 'Ewan spends ages standing on my lap and my health visitor says it strengthens his leg and hip muscles!'

How to encourage her to: Talk
Your baby may babble at around 6 months, and by 10-11 months may make more singsong sounds and imitate specific sounds, such as a cough. At around 12 months she may say her first word, such as 'Mama'. Reading, singing and chatting all help stimulate language development. Says Stacey, mum to Daniela, 9 months: 'I talk to Daniela a lot, telling her about whatever I'm doing - I'm sure she's taking it all in and understands my tone of voice.'

Did you know?
Around 10 percent of babies are still not sitting up at 8 months; don't cruise until after 13 months; and don't walk alone until after 14-15 months.
So please don't worry unnecessarily and if you are worried don't hesitate to speak with your Health Visitor or GP.
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