Category Archives: OTHER

other baby-related topics

MOTHER’S DAY QUOTES

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, FROM STELLAR CATERPILLAR !

We would like to share a few quotes from our “Inspiration” board on Pinterest for all mother’s of babies, teachers of children, grandmothers, aunts, nannies, babysitters, and friends and neighbors who lend a hand in the community of raising healthy and happy babies.  Nurturing can be done by many individuals, so in these quotes the word “mother” can be substituted with “grandmother” or “nanny” or anyone who lends a caring hand.

box of crayons with words "Color Outside the Lines"

Mothers encourage our creativity.

Mary Poppins quote about finding fun in every job

Mothers show us that the mundane can still be playful, and babies teach us the same.

A Ticht Nat Han quote about the presence of mothers.

Mothers are always present for us.

a quote for mothers about not comparing children

Motherhood is not a competition.

An inspirational quote, "Keep calm and make tea."

Offer a mother the chance for a simple break. Watch her child while she makes a cup of tea.


BABY SHAKES HANDS, WHY?

A QUESTION FROM A READER

[Baby] shakes his hands at the wrist like he is revving up a motorcycle.  He does this a lot.  He is 8 months does not sit up well or hold his bottle much.  Should we be concerned? Thank you.

STELLAR CATERPILLAR’s REPLY

Today I hear many parents and grandparents expressing concerns about baby’s development out of fear that something that is happening or not happening may indicate a neurological condition such as autism.  With the number of babies and children diagnosed with autism on the rise, it makes sense that many are concerned that their child or grandchild may be one of those babies.  Although hand shaking is an early sign of autism there are many babies who shake their hands yet do not have autism.  Take time to learn some hands-on playful activities to facilitate motor skill development with baby at home.  For the baby in the above question, learn some activities for developing motor skills such as lifting the head and improving the use of baby hands.  If your baby has autism, it may not show until later and he will be much better off from these lessons.  If your baby does not have autism, these lessons will teach him to move with much skill and coordination and he will emerge from infancy with a strong self-image.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN

The most important point I can express to a parent is that it is important to always express your concern to your pediatrician.  If the pediatrician sees something of concern in baby’s development, he or she may refer baby to physical or occupational therapy.  In most states this service is free for babies under the age of three.  Some babies are absolutely healthy, but for whatever reason they just need extra work.  The key here is that the sooner they get the work the better off they will be for the rest of their life.  Remember that expressing a concern does not invite a diagnosis that is etched in stone.  It is a dialoge that evolves as the child grows and develops and is adjusted accordingly.

MOTOR SKILL LESSONS BENEFIT ALL BABIES

When they are young they are establishing the patterns of how they move and use their body and it is extremely effective to work with them during this time.  In fact, all babies benefit from movement lessons, especially during their first year when their motor habits are forming so clearly in their brain.  Healthy babies develop tremendous skill in their movement and become very coordinated and graceful from movement lessons.  If a baby has autism which is undiagnosed, motor skill lessons may improve their use of their body and minimize some of the signs of autism.  If you are a grandparent, you may want to take a virtual lesson with Stellar Caterpillar to learn how to work with your grandchild when you spend time with him.  If you have a doll or a stuffed animal, you can learn baby developmental tips from a virtual lesson.

EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM IN BABIES

Autism is typically not diagnosed until around the age of three.  However, today there is an increasing success in diagnosing autism at an earlier age.  According to the Mayo Clinic, some babies may develop rather normally until they reach their third birthday and then the signs are more prevalent. The Mayo Clinic categorizes the areas of a child’s development that is affected by autism as either social interaction, behavior, and/or language.  Here are a few early signs of autism as identified by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Disliking the touch of a parent
  • Not making babbling or cooing sounds by first birthday
  • Repetitive movements such as hand flapping, rocking, or spinning (age 1-3)

 


MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND INDIVIDUALS

QUESTION FROM A MOTHER IN A CLASS:

Why do some babies learn motor skills faster than others?

STELLAR CATERPILLAR’S ANSWER:

This week in class a very mother asked the question “Why do some babies learn motor skills faster than others?”  I thought it was such an important question I would share the answer here.  There are several factors involved in the learning of motor skills.  Some factors are nature (we are born with) and some factors are nurture (a result of environmental factors).

PERSONALITY INFLUENCES MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Factors that a baby is born with (nature) which influence his ability to learn movement include his personality, body size, and muscle tone.  Lets look at some examples of personality traits and motor skill development.  An active baby may learn the motor skill of rolling sooner than a quiet baby.  A fussy baby may cry when put on the floor for tummy time and then her parents pick her up.  If this occurs often she will have difficulty learning her motor skills.  A determined baby may crawl a bit sooner than others because he is motivated to get to objects just out of his reach.

BABY’S SIZE IMPACTS MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Babies range drastically in their size.  A larger sized baby often will have more difficulty learning motor skills than a smaller baby.  The larger baby’s body parts weigh more and thus require more strength to move.  Learning the skill of lifting the head is more difficult for a large baby than a small one.  A smaller baby may learn skills more quickly and may learn to crawl very early.  I recently worked with a small and determined baby who learned to crawl at 4 1/2 months.  She spent time in each of her motor skills and developed her motor milestones early but skillfully.

MUSCLE TONE AND MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Babies are born with muscle tone that varies from low to hight tone.  The tone referes to the tension level in the muscles.  A premature baby  will usually have more of a challenge learning motor skills due to the lower muscle tone that is common among preemies.  This means it may take longer for the preemie to learn to roll over since he needs more time to strengthen his leg muscles first.  A baby that has too tight of muscles tone may also need more guidance to help the muscles relax. The level of tone in the muscle is a significant factor influencing the motor skill development.

ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES AND  MOTOR SKILLS 

Much of our ability for skilled movement is learned and this is where the nurture part of development is important.  The term “developmental play” evolved because research proved that certain activities improved motor skill development, coordination, balance, and strength.  These attributes of movement are learned as infants and become part of our nervous system.  As a child grows his ability to learn movement skill for dance, for example, depend on how the hip joint developed during the learning of skills such as crawling.

Environmental factors influencing development include the baby toys she plays with and how much time is spent on the floor.  Some toys, such as bells on a stick, invite movement of the arm which creates important development.  Learning developmemtal play, such as in a Stellar Caterpillar class, teaches hands-on movements to do with baby at home to teach skill and coordination in the earliest movements we learn–the motor milestones of infancy.  These activities are part of the “nurture” group of factors influencing the learning of motor skills.  A baby who experiences these lessons will learn improved coordination and balance which provide an advantage for life.

 


BABY CRIES WHEN PUT DOWN TO PLAY OR SLEEP

One of the important mini baby milestones is achieved when baby can be comfortable and quiet when put down on the floor or in his crib for baby play or sleep.  Often in the first three months when a parent puts the baby down he starts crying.  Sometimes the parent says, “He only goes to sleep when I hold him.”  This may be true, but if the pattern continues in a few months he will be quite heavy and the parent may develop back problems.  Parents can learn that they are not limited to only two choices:  1.) holding baby while he falls asleep, or 2.) putting baby down and then listening to his cries.  A third option exists.  That option is to learn parenting tips on how to teach baby to be comfortable on the floor or  in his crib without being held in mom or dad’s arms.  Learning to be comfortable on his own is an important development of a baby and is essential for motor skill development.  Baby benefits from learning to be content on the floor where he will take the time to explore how his body moves and ultimately attain  a few motor milestones.

PARENTING TIP #1:  TRANSITION BABY GRADUALLY

Often baby may be set down on the floor or in the crib rather abruptly.  For some babies this may OK, but for some it is not.  It feels a bit quick and harsh.  These babies really like to be held.  They feel they contact of mother’s arms so clearly because the sense of touch is one of the most developed senses at birth.  For these babies it helps to set them down slowly and keep your hands in contact with them even though you have put them down.  Wait awhile and then remove one hand slowly.  Wait again and then slowly remove the other hand.

PARENTING TIP #2:  CONNECT WITH YOUR VOICE

Before removing your hands from baby, talk to him.  As you remove the contact of your hands establish a clearer connection through your voice.  This is using another one of the five senses to establish a sense of security for baby.  A newborn clearly feels the security of his parent when he feels through his skin that he is being held.  As his senses develop he can also feel secure when he hears his parent talk.  Towards the end of his first year he will know his parent is near when he sees her in the room.  Speak to him in a reassuring and soothing voice as you tell him “I am here.  You are OK.  Everything is OK.  It is time to sleep/play now.”  Try singing a lullabuy to him such as ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  If you sing the same lullabuy regularly the familiarity will feel soothing to him.

PARENTING TIP #3:  PRACTICE

Recognize that baby is learning to be comfortable without the presence of your immediate touch.  Learning is a process that takes time and repetition.   Try these tips for new parents each day and see if there is an expansion in the amount of time that baby can be on his own comfortably in his crib or in floor time.  After two weeks notice if you see some improvement.  Always consult your doctor if you have a concern.


DIY MOMMY CRAFTS FOR BABY DEVELOPMENT

Babies are motivated by curiosity and exploration.  Learn some DIY Mommy Crafts to make at home for baby play to encourage motor skill development and the learning that occurs through the five senses.  Below are some screen shots from Stellar Caterpillar’s Pinterest Board “Mommy Crafts.”  For the young babies create a mobile or 3D nursery art to stimulate baby sight.  Her eyes are still developing and she sees movement of objects probably more clearly than their color or shape.   Read “What a Newborn Sees” and “Babies’ Eyes and Movement Skill Development” to learn what will stimulate baby’s sight for her age.  Create hand puppets and read our post “Baby Cruising Fast” for an example of how to use a puppet or stuffed animal to stimulate the motor skill of cruising.  When baby learns to walk make some DIY bubbles for her to chase.  Learn some simple home-made crafts for activities that motivate movement and inspire learning which is beneficial for the development of your baby.

3D cloud as a nursery mobile

3D Nursery Art to stimulate baby eyesight

DIY Board Book for baby

DIY Board Book stimulates speech development in baby

bunny hand puppets for baby play

Hand Puppets to encourage motor skill development such as cruising

baby play sensory bags

Sensory Bags for Baby Play to stimulate the sense of touch

DIY Bubbles

DIY Bubbles for baby play after reaching the motor milestone of walking


CUTE BABY MOTOR SKILL PINTEREST PINS

Enjoy these adorable pins from Pinterest.com, one of the fastest growing social media sites today.  Simple images show some of the motor skills babies enjoy learning!   A game for baby can be as simple as teaching her to imitate you while you stick out your tongue, which is also beneficial for speech development.   Our Pinterst boards “Motor Skill Games” and “Baby Exercise” offer plenty of ideas for baby play while developing the motor milestones.  One of the pins below shows a game created by a clever mom. She constructed colorful fabric squares and then stuffed them inside an empty baby wipe box for her daughter to practice pulling them out while sitting.  One of our Pinterest boards is devoted to “Mommy Crafts” for more DIY ideas.  See if you can capture some of these motor skill moments during baby’s first year for your family photo album.  And, don’t forget to follow Stellar Caterpillar on Pinterest!

a baby holds a spoon

Motor Skill of Grasping: Baby learns to hold a spoon

baby learns to stick his tongue out

Speech Development: Learn to move the tongue

 

baby stretches his arms

Motor Skill of Reaching: Stretching the arms

baby holds both feet with both hands and claps feet together

Motor Skills of Kicking, Grasping and Reaching

baby empties a box

Motor Skill of Sitting while Grasping and Reaching