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When do I need to "work" on skills?

Ive been following several accounts about child development and seeing posts about helping babies sit or crawl or learn to walk. My pediatrician has more of a “sit back and watch it happen” approach so when I ask her questions about whether I should be working on getting to the next milestone she says to just let my kids develop on their own time. Im just confused about when to intervene and when not to.

What a great question! And to answer it not so simply, it really depends :relaxed:.

For the most part, I would agree with your pediatrician that we like to allow babies, toddlers, & children to reach milestones on their own by engaging with their environments and using their own muscles to explore, learn, and grow in all areas.

There are several times a parent (or appropriate professional) should be more involved:

  1. In order to develop necessary musculature for gross/fine motor skills, babies and children need tons of open floor playtime or lots of time spent outside. Play is the best way for our children to strengthen their bodies. Because so many “containers” are now available-swings, bouncy seats, jumperoos, exercausers, etc. babies may be limited in their open play time, therefore limiting their abilities to reach milestones “on time”.

  2. Sometimes there a physiological reason or a specific developmental delay limiting a child’s growth trajectory- hypotonia (low tone), hypertonia (high tone), in-toeing, out-toeing, weakness in certain extremities or the abdominal muscles and lots more. In these cases, a child can really benefit from extra assistance.

  3. Some babies just like to take their time, they’re in no rush. It could be a personality thing and that’s ok-but it can be helpful to check with a professional to make sure there’s no underlying cause of the delay.

  4. If your child is continuing to progress and reach developmental milestones within the typical ranges and you’re allowing for lots of open play time, then there’s no assistance necessary!

Hope this is helpful!

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When my son was little, I received a helpful way of looking at development. Rather than worrying so much that he was meeting development goals at the “right age” we were encouraged to watch for growth. Is he making progress? Is he gaining new skills? Or is he stalled out? We were more concerned and sought an evaluation after he seemed stalled on his development rather than watching certain ages/date markers. Hope that helps!

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I completely agree with everything @tots-allison and @Letsplaylittleone said. I also think you can look at your environment that your little one is in and see if it is set up for them to want to explore and move. Not sure if that makes sense but depending on their age, having things at various heights, also letting them be able to explore their bodies so not stopping movement but letting them experience safe falls, etc. Also you can always give them a little assist as they attempt things, just don’t do it all for them.

Hopefully that makes sense, it’s Friday and I feel like my brain may be going on strike!

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Yes!! Couldn’t agree more with all of the above! This is a common question and it is important to remember that milestone ages are just an estimate to guide us. All develop at different speeds and as mentioned in the previous responses, as long as your little one is steadily progressing and growing that’s great! If you notice more of a plateau in development where no new skills are really being achieved, then that may raise a few questions. The most important thing is to allow for safe free play and exploration at all ages. This will help their muscles develop, learn their body limits/capability and allow for achievement and progression of developmental milestones.

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Exactly!! Great way to think about development