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The Building Blocks of Early Development Milestones: Tools for Creating a Solid Foundation

mother holding baby

Congratulations on the arrival of your little bundle of joy!  While every child develops in their own unique way, the acquisition of new skills requires an abundance of practice!  To encourage your child’s healthy development from birth to six months of age, our expert team of physical, occupational and speech therapists at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center at the Lerner Children’s Pavilion offer some helpful strategies.

  1. Provide many opportunities for your child to explore their environment. This can be achieved through floor time on a blanket or mat.  A firm support surface provides important information to your baby as they learn how to move their bodies against gravity.
  2. Incorporate tummy time throughout the day. This position can be made easier by placing a small towel roll under your baby’s chest to assist them in lifting their head and shoulders.  Tummy time is an essential ingredient for the development of future motor skills, such as standing and walking.
  3. Position your baby on their side during playtime. You can place a soft blanket roll at their back for support.  This position encourages midline orientation of the arms and legs and can be used in addition to your baby lying on their back and tummy time.
  4. At around the age of 3 months, help your baby to bring their feet to their hands while positioned on their back. This movement encourages activity of the belly muscles and will prepare your baby for future activities, such as rolling.
  5. Encourage your baby to bring their hands to the middle of their bodies. Typical earlier movements of the arms and legs will appear more spontaneous while more coordinated movements of the limbs toward the midline will emerge around 3 to 4 months of age.
  6. At around the age of 4 months, you can begin to encourage rolling activities by placing a toy or a small mirror on each side of your baby, such that they reach to one side to get to the toy or to look in the mirror.
  7. Introduce toys which are soft and not too heavy, allowing your baby to manipulate the toys with their hands safely. You will soon realize that your baby explores many of their toys by placing them in their mouth.  This is an important part of stimulating oral motor development.
  8. At around 4 to 5 months of age, you can begin to initiate sitting activities with your baby by providing support at their hips using your hands, legs, or a pillow. Placing toys and other objects of interest in more elevated locations will encourage a more upright position of your baby’s head and trunk.
  9. Even though your baby cannot talk just yet communication is still happening. Interact with your baby through smiling, cooing, and vocal play.
  10. Most importantly, enjoy the amazing gift of watching your baby learn and grow in these early days, as they will be walking and talking before you even know it!

Updated September 26, 2019

Jennifer Jezequel, physical therapist

Jennifer Jezequel is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical specialist at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center within the Lerner Children’s Pavilion at HSS. She is board certified by the American Physical Therapy Association as a Pediatric Clinical Specialist.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.