1. Your baby needs TONS of time on the floor. Babies learn by moving, by doing, by exploring, by checking out the red wine stain on the carpet and the dirt specs on the floor. Unrestricted movement time on the floor is where your baby collects all of the prerequisite skills required to master milestones down the road. So give them lots and lots of opportunities for play time on the floor without restriction.
2. Baby gear does not support development. Gear and containers including the carseat, stroller, DockATot, Bumbo seats, activity centers, and exersaucers do not help nurture a baby's skills, no matter what developmental terms those convincing marketing teams put on the labels. Baby gear is highly restricting, can cause poor postural and head alignment, and can impact development. More specifically, equipment like jumpers and exersaucers can cause improper activation of the leg muscles and tightness in the calves, impacting walking later on. So, be mindful of how much time a baby spends in gear throughout the day. If you are thinking "oh my gosh, my baby is in gear a whole lot, what have I done?!" do not beat yourself up. You have not derailed development. But, moving forward, it is time to prioritize more time on the floor.
3. Your baby does not need you to teach them how to do things. Your baby is not going to learn to roll by you teaching him/her to roll. Your baby will not learn to sit by you teaching them to sit. And your baby certainly will not learn to walk by you teaching him/her to walk. Babies learn by moving, doing, and exploring on their own. They learn by laying each building block on top of the last, mastering all of the developmental steps first. So, there is no need to teach your baby. Let baby do the developmental work he/she is hardwired to do.
4. You are going to compare your baby to other babies. It's natural, and we are only human! With such pressure on babies to meet milestones at certain times, it is bound to happen at some point. But here's the thing. No 2 babies develop at the same rate. Your baby's developmental timetable is different than your first born's, different than your best friend's baby of the exact same age, and different from Little Jimmy from birthing class. So, if you find yourself scrolling Insta and your throat tightens as you find yourself in the baby comparison trap, tell yourself this: compare your baby to your baby, and who he/she was last month. Focus on the progress your baby has made in just a short period of time. This is a far better indicator of growth, learning, and that baby is on track.
5. You don't have to be SuperMom for your baby's development to stay on track. You don't have to buy expensive fancy toys, setup up extravagant play activities and run to Michael's every week for DIY materials. You don't have to know what to do with this 9 pound blob all the time. You just took on so much emotional weight becoming a parent that the added the stress of being a perfect parent or being SuperMom is the last thing you need. Instead, be gentle with yourself, cut yourself some slack, and just be emotionally present with your baby. You are going to do the best you can, and your best is enough.
I hope these 5 tips were helpful.
Until next time, air hugs!
Hi! Austen here. Portland based Pediatric OT obsessed with leggings and all things child development. Welcome to my journal! I hope to educate and empower parents and caregivers with science inspired insights, effective strategies, and confidence.