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Your baby’s health and development: What is normal?

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

What's normal, what's not

It is hard to describe normal. What might be normal for one baby, is not for another. Don't compare your baby to your friends' or strictly follow the charts — instead shoot for individual milestones. There is a range of normalcy for every infant; each baby has his own personality and style of development.

Some babies are very motivated, while others are more oriented to talk or to develop fine motor skills. Others hate tummy time, and many long for it most of the day. There are loud and passionate babies and quiet observers. Regardless, help support each baby's individual development; they'll do things at different paces and show you what they want. There are four categories of infant development to keep in mind as your baby grows:

  • Language
  • Small motor development (grasping or reaching, hand-eye coordination)
  • Large motor development (holding head up, sitting, rolling over, walking)
  • Social (Baby's interaction with hands and face, a coo, smile)

What can you do with your baby to help encourage his normal development?

Tummy time

This is a chance to get babies off of their backs; providing a break to the muscles that support back time and help strengthen neck muscles that will prepare babies to crawl. Tummy time is also noted to help babies push up, sit up, roll over and eventually stand. The benefits of this small practice are incredible in encouraging small and large motor skills.

Tummy time: Why it's essential for your baby's development >>

First steps

There is no set month when a baby might take her first steps, but it is a Kodak moment the second it happens. In order to help this development, try walkers. Do not completely rely on the walker as the baby might become lazy and only walk with the walker. Set up fun obstacles for Baby to hold onto as she begins to walk in a path.

Making memories: Celebrating your baby's first steps >>

Building balance

Sometimes after a baby has mastered tummy time, balance exercises naturally set in. When Baby becomes a bit stronger around 4 to 6 months, try propping the baby in a sitting position, helping him get a sense of balance. You can also use a Boppy or inner tube to help assist him in balancing.

Play time

Play helps infants become stimulated and begins to aid in the connection between nerve cells that will develop language, small and large gross motor skills and social development. The saying goes, play is child's work, and it is! Provide a comfortable and stimulating environment and Baby will begin her work. There is no such thing as too much play time for Baby.

Crawling on all fours

Usually after a baby can sit by himself, crawling begins. Again, each baby moves at a different pace and some might skip one step and go directly onto the next. Get on all fours and show Baby how to crawl — this might help entice him — and babies can learn by example. Don't feel bad — go ahead and entice him and put a couple toys out of reach. Sooner or later, Baby will start moving around to get to the toys and be more willing to test boundaries.

Treasure every moment of the special time, as once he gets going, he won't stop!

More about your baby's development

Months 1-3: Common milestones
Months 4-6: Common milestones
Months 7-9: Common milestones

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