A baby’s first time on their stomach, first step or first word is a milestone worth recording and remembering. But did you know that rushing your baby to achieve a milestone might affect how well they do later in life?
Even the seemingly harmless gesture of propping your three-month-old on your couch might change how your baby’s posture and motor skills develop.
There is also a likely order in your baby’s development. For instance, they have to learn how to lift their heads, roll over, sit up, crawl, and stand, before they attempt to walk.
This is a critical period in your baby’s life, according to rehabilitation trainer Poh Ying Bin.
Mr. Poh specializes in developmental kinesiology, which focuses on the body’s development and movement.
In an article published on the Young Parents magazine, Mr. Poh was quoted saying, “One of the most common mistakes that parents make is to put their babies in passive positions they are not ready for, such as sitting or standing.”
Rushing your baby’s milestones may have a long-term effect on their development and muscles used in crawling, walking and running.
Child care experts share the most common mistakes parents make in handling their babies and how to correct such mistakes to avoid ruining your baby’s development.
Swaddling your baby 24/7
Swaddling is effective in calming a colicky baby, but doing it all day long is not good for their motor development. Mr. Poh said that restricting the baby’s movement will stop the development of their bones, joints, and muscles, negatively affecting their movement in the future.
You can still swaddle your baby, but do it only during bedtime or naptime. When your baby is awake, put him on his belly and let him move his body by encouraging him to reach out to his toys.
Putting the baby constantly on his back
Although letting the baby sleep on his back is a practice backed upon by the American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce the risk of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, you still need to give your baby some tummy time. It will help your baby strengthen his neck and upper back and improve his motor coordination skills.
At six weeks old, your baby can stay on his tummy for five minutes per session. You can increase this to 20 minutes per session when he’s four months old, as recommended by Dr. Wendy Sinnathamby, a Raffles Children’s Centre pediatrician.
Letting the baby sit up before he’s ready
[INPOSTLB]Babies aged seven to eight months usually start trying to sit up, according to Mr. Poh.
Their attempts usually go like this – they roll on their side and prop themselves up using one hand.
However, it is never a good idea to let your baby sit when his body is not yet strong enough to support this position. Forcing him to sit may also ruin his developmental stage. If he can assume the sitting position, he might skip the stage where he tries to prop himself up from lying down.
Moreover, a baby who is used to sitting down may delay the stages of crawling, standing and walking on his own.
Mr. Poh recommends giving your baby more surface to play around in so he can practice lifting his head, rolling, flipping, and coordinating his body in preparation for sitting down.
Letting your baby use the walker
Walkers can be detrimental to your baby’s walking and balancing skills, according to senior physiotherapist Ng Shin Huey of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Mr. Poh explained that when babies are placed on walkers, they usually try to move on their tippy toes, which is not an ideal pattern for babies who are still learning how to walk.
Walkers also have the inherent danger of toppling over, causing injury.
Instead of using walkers, experts recommend putting stable support for your baby to hold on to all around the house. Babies will need the support at around nine to 10 months old.
Putting the baby on a mattress to encourage crawling and walking
While you might be thinking that a mattress will give your baby a safe cushion to land on in case he falls while trying to crawl or walk, it actually hampers your baby’s development and his natural movement. Your baby’s feet should not sink into the surface to let him get a better grip while moving and exploring, so a non-slip mat would be a good alternative to a mattress.
This is also why crawlers and walkers should go barefoot while they’re attempting to crawl and walk. If you take them outside, make sure to choose soft and flexible footwear, with a material thin enough to let your baby feel the ground.