The movement, behaviour and language your baby should ideally be demonstrating at different ages are called age-appropriate developmental milestones. Although I always remind parents that children are growing in different ways simultaneously (language, emotional awareness, motor skills, comprehension etc) and it’s important to avoid constantly comparing your child to others, knowing these kinds of milestones can be a useful guide to help ensure your infant’s brain is wiring and firing in an ideal manner, and whether to take action if your baby needs additional help.
Massage Your Baby
Massage time can be a great way for parents to connect with their child (especially dads!) but it also provides wonderful brain stimulation. Compared to other senses, an infants sense of touch is highly developed from the moment they are born, and touch is something they will always respond to. Alternate soft, all-over body massage with firmer pressure holds, working slowly down one arm, across the torso and down the opposite leg to the foot. Repeat this on both sides. This massage is great for calming the nervous system, particularly if your child is upset or over-stimulated when it is time for sleep. Read this post on how to do this with your child.
Give Them Sensory Experiences
Whenever possible, introduce new sensory experiences to your infant. Let them play with a range of objects which have different textures, temperatures or that make different sounds. As parents we sometimes joke that kids don’t need a ton of toys, everyday household objects often work just as well, and it’s true! Use the everyday world to excite their senses; have them run barefoot on the grass or sand, dip their fingers and toes in water, or play with rustling leaves. Let them play with your pots and pans, utensils, and other safe everyday household objects that won’t cause them any harm. Give them time to explore freely (but supervised!) so they can process the new sounds, textures and sights and integrate their next moves without any adult intervening and showing them what to do.
Minimize Your Child’s Exposure to Toxins
I first started thinking about toxins in my home when my oldest son started to crawl. Suddenly I was aware of everything he would start touching and putting in his mouth, and I knew there might be chemical irritants to his developing nervous system. Once I started changing our cleaning solutions, it became easier to continue making other small changes the more I learned. Pollutants in our modern environment—for example pesticides, heavy metals, herbicides and fumigants—have been linked to abnormalities in behaviour, perception, cognition, and motor ability during early childhood, even when exposure is at so-called harmless levels. Try to provide your child with a toxin-free environment. Educate yourself about the metals and harsh chemicals that are in the everyday products such as prescriptive and non-prescriptive drugs.
Have Your Baby’s Nervous System Checked!
To maximize your infant’s nerve function, have them assessed by a Chiropractor skilled with children. Clinical studies indicate that rapid growth of the entire brain occurs during the first year of life. The Journal of Neuroscience (2008) states that, although the first year of life may be a period of developmental vulnerability it may also be a period in which therapeutic interventions would have the greatest positive effect. One of the reasons I love working with children is because they heal so fast! If you’re curious about how chiropractic might help your child book a complimentary visit to meet Dr. Melissa Longo and ask any questions you may have.
Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for neurological/development issues in children.