Question: My concern is that I am not doing enough throughout the day to develop my sons brain properly and as fast as it could be developed. When we went to the Pediatrician for his 6 mo appointment he had a concern that our son did not know how to role from his back to his stomach.
Up until this point he was always scaled in the high 70th percentile for intelligence. It was exactly a week later that he started crawling and within 2 days of crawling he was not only rolling from his back to stomach, but he was pulling himself up and standing all on his own without falling for an extended period of time.
Now at the age of 7mo he is trying to stand in middle of the floor with no help and appears as though he wants to walk.
The reason that I am so worried about all of this is because as a kid I struggled in school and had no desire to learn. I want to do all that I can to prepare him so that when he is in school he has more time to have fun and less stress to fulfill the extremely high expectations of the common curriculum these days.
So the question is not only how do I tell if he is where he should be mentally, but what can I do to help him along.
Heidi's Answer: Dear Bethany, I will happily give you my personal view on this, as a mother of two growing-up children. You should know though that I do specialize in sleep, not in baby's brain development as you address.
To help your baby develop at best, the most efficient way is to let him develop all skills at his own pace. You will guide from the sideline by offering the right opportunities and possibilities, encouraging his efforts but without forcing.
A child learns best when:
- he is ready for it (physically and mentally) and
- he meets the right opportunities
As an example, to learn how to crawl: he must be ready physically (his body strong enough and arms and legs developed as required for crawling). He must also be ready in his mind, meaning he must want to do it, not be afraid to move away from you independently, etc.
And the opportunity must be there: there must be enough room and a safe flat, not too rough surface to crawl on. And his clothing must allow for crawling.
So your task in this would be to assure comfortable clothing, a good space to crawl, moments when he can practice. And you can encourage him by placing toys near him. You will be around to reassure him that you don't disappear if he starts crawling. And applaud if he makes an effort, or advances a bit.
But that's it, there is no more you can do. If he's not ready, is not interested or simply a bit scared ... he won't crawl.
In some cases you might get something done by 'making him do it' but that will not have taught him much. Only when ready and when it comes from him, will he have learned it well. Once he does start doing it, you can help again by encouraging, and helping him practice to improve.
And this is the case for everything he has to learn, whether it is crawling, standing or walking, sleeping independently, or holding things, starting to talk and later on to read. It will not happen unless the opportunity is there at a moment when he is ready.
So my main advice to you right now is to relax about it. Give your son time to develop at his pace, whether that is faster or slower than average.
Such a book can be helpful, as long as you keep in mind that all numbers you find are averages. And averages mean that there is deviation from the mean value. And it does not necessarily mean bad school results later on if he is later than average for some and early for other skills.
Some of the best athletes did not start walking until 18 months old. Some of the best scientists did not start talking until the age of 2. Some of the best managers skipped crawling all together to walk at 9 months old but did not read a word until first grade.
So right now you will be helping him best by relaxing. Be confident in your son's brain and its development.
Watch him, give him opportunities without forcing. Talk to him a lot: about what you see, what you are doing, where you are going, what people are doing, ... Read books, sings songs, play, play, play, ... Keep it fun and leave any pressure out. If he does work on something new: be there to encourage, reassure and applaud.