The 8 most important things to develop

While rushing from the one stimulation class to the next, you constantly check Google and social media for the latest on ‘what your baby should be doing to ace an IQ test’ or ‘this is how your baby ends up in the top 10’ and ‘is your baby the next victor or victrix ludorum?’
Finding the balance between trusting your instincts and keeping up with the times is really tricky. So how can parents gauge whether they should be doing more, or perhaps- less? We have to ask:

Is more always better?

The answer: More natural movement is better!

Believe it or not, but scientific research shows that the quality of baby’s physical development in the first 14 months of life determines his or her emotional, social and cognitive development six years later! Your baby’s posture, self-esteem, confidence, coordination and movement skills will make learning a fun adventure, life-long.

As a baby moves and crosses the three planes (forward and backwards, side to side, up and down), balance, counterbalance and keeping the head in line with the body (head control) are continuously developed. These skills are needed so that a baby can sit upright, sit still, and develop clever hands, feet and eyes- all the ingredients needed for academic learning in the classroom years later.

So what should I develop with the help of natural movement?

1. The head leads all development
It is important that a baby masters head control in the first few months because head control leads all other postural control and physical development. A baby cannot become mobile to roll, sit, crawl or walk without a stable head. The neck muscles are needed to stabilize the head and neck, adjust head posture, and provide movement.

2. Core muscles provide control and movement of the trunk
Our core muscles provide a stable base for our bodies in the same way that an axis provides stability for a wheel. Stability around the centre of our bodies allows us to transfer weight across the three planes while keeping our balance. In this way all movements can be performed smoothly and effortlessly. The core muscles even acts as the base for eye, hand and foot control and allow us to become skilful in sport activities, writing and reading.

3. Trunk rotation
The first form of locomotion in a baby is rolling, which only occurs once adequate control of the head and trunk muscles are achieved. Trunk rotation makes it possible for a baby to roll over while it simultaneously promotes crawling.

4. Hip and pelvis control
For a baby to be able to bear weight on his legs for crawling and later walking, a stable pelvis and hip joints are necessary.

5. Scapula (shoulder blade) stability
The position and correct movement of the scapula during shoulder joint movements are very important for a functional upper body. Weight-bearing activities assist a lot in strengthening those important muscles (eg. while doing tummy time and crawling).

6. Mouth activities for clear speech and pronunciation
The muscles of a baby’s mouth are naturally strengthened through sucking and feeding activities. The mouth muscles are often recruited to support skilful movements of the fingers, toes and eyes and will contribute to clear speech.

7. Strong fingers for independence, sport, art & academic skills
The muscles that extend the wrist and/or fingers, the ones that flex the wrist and/or fingers and the ones that move the thumb should be strong for fine motor activities.

8. Strong ankle, foot and toes
This will improve gravitational security, balance and agility.
Join a BabyGym Instructor near you and learn how to stimulate all the important muscle groups during a BabyGym class.

You might want to read about the first year of emotions through your baby’s eyes.