Thank you for sharing with our readers about the normal infant development in the first year! First, can you tell me a little bit about ABC Pediatrics, and what services you offer to kids in the Cincinnati and Dayton region?
ABC Pediatric Therapy Network has 6 locations in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. We want to be convenient for families. Each location provides pediatric Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy in a child directed play-based environment. Children want to come and play and do not even realize they are doing therapy.
What are some of the things that parents should be looking for in terms of normal development for their infant in the first year of life?
Children make so many changes in the first year of life. The first 3 years of life a child has the most change in brain development. It is crucial that parents educate themselves on what skills to encourage and when to maximize their child’s potential. ABC developed a tool for parents to use to take a look for themselves at what their child can do and then gives tips on how to encourage what their child is not yet doing. Go to checklist.abcpediatrictherapy.com for any child ages 1-6 years old.
For children under the age of 1, educate yourself using the developmental checklists for language, social, fine motor, and gross motor skills on our website.
On our website you can also find a blog written just about the First Year of Development that you might find helpful.
All parents get excited about the big milestones, like crawling, or saying the first word. I didn’t realize, though, that some of those things aren’t just cute. They are crucial steps that lay the foundation for the future in many ways!
What are some of the milestones you hear parents talk about that typically surprise them to hear have a bigger, long-term impact on learning and development through childhood?
Tummy Time is so important for a child. Please take a few moments to read the blog below. Time on the belly helps to develop the balance and sensory system in the head. Skills related to vision paired with body movement begins with development while on the tummy. An infant also puts weight through the shoulders, elbows and hands that is a building block for a child ability to perform future skills with the hands like throw a ball or write with a pencil. A child ability to focus in school can begin with Tummy Time as the sensory systems of hearing, balance and vision are all located in the head. The development of these systems starts on the belly.
Make it a priority to help your child enjoy playing on their tummy.
Another skill that parents do not realize is important for later skills is feeding. Eating baby food off of a spoon strengthens the muscles around the mouth that later aids in learning how to say words. Baby food pouches do not aid in strengthening the mouth muscles for speech. Spoon feeding is best. When you begin to give your baby table foods, allow your child to experience a variety of flavors, temperatures, textures, and colors. This variety can help prevent picky eating as they get older.
What are 2-3 simple things parents can do to help support normal development for their children in infancy?
- Spends lots of time playing with your child on the floor.
- Tummy Time is very important for future skills so make this a priority.
- Educate yourself as a parent as to what your child should do and when.
What should a parent do if they are concerned about their child's development?
Do not wait! First, educate yourself so you know what your child should do at their current age level. Then know the next steps skills. If you do not know what is coming next, you will not begin to encourage it or have the toys in the house to encourage the skills so your child can master it.
Play with your child. If your child is not developing skills after you have encouraged them, reach out to your pediatrician. A referral to a therapist will teach you, the parent, how to encourage the skills so your child will master them. Each skill builds on the next. Falling behind in one skills can cause delays in another. Lacking skills can affect child’s self-confidence and ability to make friends.
How does ABC Therapy approach therapy for kids?
ABC uses a child directed approach to therapy. The child is in control and makes the choices on what we play, how and where. Therapists are great at accomplishing goals wherever the child chooses to play – on the jungle gym or in the foam pit. Other children are in the same space so children are playing together. This normal play environment makes transferring those skills outside of ABC’s gym a natural and easy process.
What would you say to a parent who is worried that they did something wrong, or who is worried about their child being labeled if they have to be in therapy?
Every parent just wants their child to succeed. The first step is an educated parent. Know what your child should be able to do at what age level and encourage those skills to mastery.
Parents are challenged with feeling guilty everyday that we did not do enough. Do not fall into this trap. Every day you are loving and caring for that child the best you know how. Keep getting educated on development so you “know how”. If you child struggles, you keep doing the best you know how and get your child the help to succeed. Then your child will be thriving with their friends.
Avoiding help could lead to your child not mastering skills effecting self esteem and who they are comfortable playing with that might have the same skills as they do. Success in school can also be challenged.
Do not worry about what anyone thinks. Do what you in your heart know will help your child to succeed.