My patients often ask at what age did I start to adjust my children and the answer is the same for both of them. The day they were born! I remember my son’s first adjustment very clearly, could be with the second baby you have an idea of what to expect and I was over the “new Mommy” fears. When Justin, my 12 year old, was born it was a long labor but a quick delivery. Hours of contractions and waiting for his arrival but the momentum changed when they told me to start pushing. He was born like a shot gun.
No one would claim a difficult transition into this world so why would l think to adjust him? I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, nice birth and a healthy baby boy, yet my first thought when they brought him to me in the room was to check his “alignment” and jump start his neuro motor development. Why? Because Babies are developing motor and neuro-motor patterns from the moment they are born and will continue to develop motor and neuro-motor patterns very rapidly over the next few years.
Facts About Motor Development
- Motor development is a biologically driven process (we are programed to move). The patterns of movement for the infant and toddler starts with the head, and moves down the spine and from areas close to the spine moves further away to the extremities.
- The specific age at which each child develops a motor skill is variable and therefore less important than the PATTERN of motor development.
- Motor development can be seen as an epicenter for early childhood development, out of which other developmental skills will spring to life. The infant is becoming aware of their movements, their environment, creating new skills and linking skills acquired earlier with newly acquired skills, such as new cognitive insights and language. Of course, the reverse is true as well. The acquisition of a new motor or more sophisticated motor skill can also be the result of the acquisition of language or cognitive skills.
- Biological patterns of motor skills are most apparent during the first year of life. The Biological motor patterns begin with breathing, turning the head, lifting the head, moving the arms and legs, rolling over and the initial pattern of crawling. The motor skill development in the first year is considered to be a primitive reflex (driving by an internal intelligence, meaning you do not teach a baby these patterns they are programed to develop them). After the first year, motor skills can be influenced much more by a combination of external factors. (Experience, health, environment, etc.) They can be taught in conjunction with the internal drive to develop the skills to walk and run.
How can you help influence the proper development in the first year and beyond?
- When bottle feeding simulate breast feeding by alternating holding the baby in the right then left arm. A child is developing the muscle tone and curvature of the neck by rotating its head right and left during feeding.
- Give you baby time on its back and belly to play. Initially, you will be putting the baby on its back and use toys to interact. You can also put your baby over your legs on its stomach supporting its head. This development pattern is important to the development of the neck and low back. The back is learning to lift its head and arch its back.
- Do not use devices to prop your baby into a standing position. Such as the exersaucer, there is much controversy over this device and it has yet to prove any benefit in the motor development of the infant. It does however, prematurely load the low back before the development of the curvature and could prove harmful.
- Don’t let your baby skip the crawling phase of motor development. Most parents are anxious to see their child walk, but all good things in time. Encourage crawling, get down on the floor with your baby and crawl around, it’s good for both of you!
- Whatever you do, have fun playing with your baby.