Baby’s First Step, a Physiotherapist perspective

Today’s contributing article is by a Kensington Mums member, a mother of two Dr. Sarah Garraoui, MSPT, DPT.
Dr. Sarah Garraoui is a Physiotherapist with 20 years of experience. She worked in Private Practice in New York City working with infant, children, adolescents and adults. She joined the Kensington Physio and Sports Medicine team in London this year. Her office is located at 10 Thurloe Street SW7 2ST in South Kensington. If you have any questions, she can be reached at Sarah.Garraoui@kenphysio.com. For more information on her practice, please click here.
img_3419

Your baby’s first year is an exciting time. As a Physiotherapist with 20 years of expertise in baby motor development, I get asked these questions all the time.
FAQs
How long should my baby do tummy time?
Short answer: As long as your baby is happy or just fussy about it.

The ones that need it most generally don’t like it because it is hard. Try them on your chest or lap. Then progress them to over your bent knees or a pillow under their armpits. Work up to 5 minutes, but NOT if crying. Overall guidelines are 2-4 times a day for 20 minutes total. Just build up to it.

Are Baby Carriers and slings ok?
They are actually preferred when in the correct position. Make sure your baby’s head is supported and mouth uncovered. Also baby’s legs should NOT be straight. Babies legs can be crossed frog-legged or spread out wide with knees bent.

Is it ok for my baby to sit?
Newborns need lots of head support, but by 3 months their head should be strong enough to sit in your lap fully supported. A bouncy chair with a sling back is fine until your baby can sit independently around 6 months.

Is it ok for my baby to stand?
Generally in the Physio-world, a lot of standing is discouraged until 6-8 months. The benefit to standing earlier is minimal and more muscle is built by tummy time and dynamic sitting.

Some babies skip crawling and walk early?
Crawling develops more strength and coordination and is preferred.

My baby is a late walker, should I be concerned?
I’d be concerned if at 16-18 months your baby hadn’t taken their first steps or walking by 18 months. If your baby is 14 months and not walking, rejoice! Your baby is working on “walking” by crawling everywhere and will excel at walking and fall less frequently once they decide to get on two feet! They just saved you 2 months of trying to catch them from falling non-stop.

Should my baby wear shoes?
Your baby is developing muscles even in their feet. Keep them barefoot or use socks with treads or soft shoes.

Physiotherapy and your baby.
ANY concerns about your baby’s motor development, their head, sitting or walking or anything else, see a Physiotherapist with special expertise in babies. They will either let you know your baby is on track or show you simple fun exercises your baby can do to catch up.
The most common issues for babies are: Torticollis & Plagiocephaly (head and neck issue), hip dysplasia (hip dislocation), low tone (weakness), and delayed motor skills. Physiotherapy is extremely successful with all of these. Generally earlier intervention is better that the Wait and See Model.

Your baby’s first year is when they develop all of their muscles for the rest of their lives. Let them explore and crawl around as much as possible. Don’t wish for them to grow up too fast!