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The left side of our brain controls the right side of our body and the right side of our brain controls the left side of our body. The two sides are connected by the corpus callosum. The majority of the corpus callosum forms during the first year of life. Babies need stimulation to both sides of their body for this to form adequately and have coordinated motor control. Babies develop from head-to-toe establishing head and neck control, then trunk stability, and eventually the coordination and strength for walking. They also develop from their trunk to their fingers and toes, having the ability to roll and sit first, and eventually establishing fine motor coordination and the ability to walk on tip toe. Each developmental milestone builds on the previous one. It is important that babies go through milestones in a sequential manner, so that their body structure is prepared to master one thing before moving on to the next. For example, baby needs to crawl before walking and standing because crawling helps to develop pelvic and shoulder stability and once baby starts walking, this opportunity is missed. Try not to use baby products such as walkers and jumpers, because their use may lead baby to skip important developmental milestones.

Tips for developing coordinated movements:

  • Bring your baby’s hands or feet together at midline to clap, hold a toy, or touch each other
  • Bring your baby’s opposite hands and feet together – this stimulates both sides of the brain to work together.
  • Allow your baby a lot of ‘tummy time’ to strengthen shoulder and neck muscles; also stretch front hip muscles to prepare for crawling.
  • Lie on your back and place your baby on her tummy on your chest. Talk to her so she lifts her head to look at your face. This helps to strengthen baby’s neck muscles.
  • Sit in a chair and place your baby across your legs on his tummy. Stroke your baby’s head, neck and back in one motion, encouraging baby to lift his head.
  • You could hold a toy in front of your baby’s face with your other hand and encourage baby to look up at it.
  • Put your baby on her tummy with a small, rolled-up towel under her armpits so that she is holding her head up and putting weight through her hands or elbows. This helps build shoulder stability which is so important for crawling, pulling to stand, and eventually fine motor control.

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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances and as always, please consult your pediatrician before using any of the suggestions or baby exercises on this site.
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