WHEN DO BABIES LEARN TO WAVE BYE

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Lukits, Ann, “Waving Bye-Bye Linked To Babies’ Development,”  Wall Street Journal, 12/3/13.

HOW BABIES LEARN TO WAVE BYE-BYE

Waving “Bye-Bye” is an important social and motor milestone that may be achieved during baby’s first year.  Learned through the skill of imitation and by the coordination of visual skill with fine motor skill, this skill is a lot of fun for babies.  Think of this skill as a somewhat complex version of grasping and reaching since the arm, hand, and fingers are involved.   Some babies wave by moving the wrist up and down and some by turning the hand round and round.  Observe the baby in the top video from Brandon Cassidy’s youtube channel.  He keeps his arm quite still as he moves his hand from side to side.  In the second video from Blanca Anderson’s youtube channel the baby waves by moving both his hand and his arm up and down.  This baby appears to be younger than the baby in the first video and the movement of his wave is less refined.  In time, he will learn to hold his arm still and move only his hand as the older baby can do in the first video.

RESEARCH STUDY:  BABIES LEARN TO WAVE BYE-BYE

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal took a close look at current research regarding this important baby milestone.  The article focuses on a recent study in Pediatrics International which found that premature babies learned the skill of waving bye-bye significantly later than full-term babies and they also used different hand and wrist movements.  The study compared the skill of waving bye-bye in 597 full-term and 95 premature babies in Japan.  Mothers reported the age when baby learned to wave goodbye and the infants’ hand motions were recorded by video camera at well-baby checkups and later analyzed.  Researchers present at the check-ups waved bye-bye to the babies to see if they would imitate them.  This study highlights the differences between the full term and premature babies in learning this skill.

AT WHAT AGE DO BABIES LEARN TO WAVE

Most full-term babies in the study achieved the milestone of waving bye-bye around the age of 10 months, and all of them achieved it before their first birthday.  Premature babies  learned the motor skill of waving an average of one month later than the full-term babies and 57% achieved the skill by their first birthday.  Learning the milestone of waving occurs as babies coordinate their fine motor skills and their visual ability to imitate an action observed.

 


TEACHING A 4 MONTH OLD BABY THE SKILL OF ROLLING

THE MOTOR SKILL OF ROLLING

My baby (just turned four months) has just started rolling from belly to back, but though she tries she can’t quite manage to do back to belly. I think part of the problem is that she doesn’t seem to realize she can bend at the hips and lift her legs in the air. She always sticks them straight out. (When she’s on her belly she often ‘surfs’ on her tummy with both her shoulders and her hips off the ground.)  I’m making a game of lifting her legs during nappy changes when I have to lift them anyway. Is there anything else I can do to encourage her to fold in the middle?    

-Question from a reader in the UK

Congratulations that your baby has begun to master one of the top ten motor milestones for baby’s first year!  Also, congratulations on your awareness of what she is learning and what she needs to learn next.  This is a very important skill for mothers to develop.  You have asked a very important question and we will look at a few important points of how babies learn motor skills as we answer your question.

Two STAGES OF THE SKILL OF ROLLING

It is helpful to understand the the motor skill of rolling, which includes both rolling from back to belly and from belly to back, is learned in stages.  At first most babies learn to roll either from back to belly or from belly to back.  Then they practice that skill (which is only half of a full roll) for quite a while.  Later the other piece of the roll is learned.  Some babies learn the second piece sooner and some learn it much later.  With some skilled hands on guidance from a parent, baby may learn the skill more quickly.  At four months of age, your baby is learning the skill of rolling rather quickly.

AVOID STANDING BABY ON her FEET

It is wonderful that you observed that she has the habit of sticking her legs straight out.  Yes, this may be making it difficult to roll from back to belly.  Bringing the legs up and to the side can initiate the movement of rolling.  Ask yourself if you or a caretaker of the baby (such as a nanny or grandparent) puts then baby on her feet at all.  This activity of putting baby on her feet while on your lap, in a jumper, or in an exersaucer teach the baby to straighten her legs.  This is one of the many reasons why it is not encouraged to put baby on her feet until she can stand herself up without your help.  This action of the legs straightening becomes an action that baby learns and when she is on her back she will do what she has learned, straighten her legs.  This does not help her learn to roll now or learn to crawl later.  Remember that she has the rest of her life to stand on her feet, and this time on the floor is important for developing a strong foundation for the development of her skeleton and muscles.

LEARN DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITIES FOR BABY

Rather than put baby on her feet, try some playful activities with her that she will enjoy and will facilitate the action of rolling.  Try some developmental activities a few times a day.  Here are a few that we recommend:

1.  While she is on her back, take one leg only and bend it toward her chest while telling her that she can bend her leg.  Then extend her leg down towards straight as your tell her that she can extend her leg.  Alternate between these two actions while telling her she can “bend her leg, and extend her leg.”  Spend more time in the “bend” movement since you want her to learn that action more clearly.  Repeat several time on one leg only and then switch to the other leg.

2.  Take her right leg and right arm up toward the ceiling and gently move them at the same time to the left to initiate the roll.  First go just a little bit, then return.  Then move a bit further and return.  Eventually take her all the way to her belly.  Do this very slowly so she can feel what you are doing.  You are showing her how she can learn to roll herself to her belly.

3.  Roll her onto her side so she feels the place she will move through as she transitions from her back to her belly.

Try these tips for parents at home and let me know how they work with baby!


BABY GEAR: BABY TOYS WITH FACES

a toy for newborn babies with a large face

NEWBORN BABY TOYS

A baby needs time to learn the motor skill of grasping and reaching which is required to hold a toy and play with it.  Even the most simple rattle takes time for a baby to learn to grasp in their hand and shake with their arm.  Baby learns to hold a rattle for the first time around 2 or 3 months of age.  What toys will a newborn baby enjoy if she can not hold one very well yet?  The answer is simple:  a toy with a very clear face on it.  “Clear” means easy for the newborn baby to see.  A newborn baby’s eyes can see high contrast best which is black and white.  A face with large eyes in black and white will be easy for her to see.

Toys made from soft materials that can hand from the edge of a baby carrier or a stroller are fun for her to look at.  Some play mats have an arch above baby’s head from which to hang these soft and colorful toys.  Eventually she may begin to reach out a hand or foot to try and touch the friendly looking creature smiling down at her.  Often they are in the form of insects or bugs such as caterpillars or bees.  Sometimes the smiles are hidden inside of a flower.  There are many creative options on the market today.  Choose a couple of them for the newborn developmental stage.  These toys also are practical and colorful baby shower gifts.

RELATED POSTS:

WHAT A NEWBORN SEES

BABIES’ EYES AND MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

BOOK REVIEW:  WHITE ON BLACK

 


BABY’S FIRST HALLOWEEN

baby dressed in a monkey costume for Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN !

As you enjoy the holiday, please keep in mind the importance of keeping sugar away from babies.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examined how much sugar Americans are consuming.  “Sugar Math for Halloween”  states that on a daily basis we consume more than twice the amount of added sugar than is recommended.   In the article, author Bonnie Rochman explains why children love candy and develop a strong craving for it.  She writes that taste buds in children are more clustered than in adults.  Although they have the same number of taste buds, the size of the tongue is much smaller and therefore pushes them closer together.  This makes flavors more intense.  This is also why children do not like bitter foods, she adds.  Develop habits with baby that develop a sugar-free Halloween tradition.

A TRICK TO LIMIT TREATS

Some parents are learning tricks to limit treats as education increases parents’ knowledge of the harmful effects of sugar.  Consumption of sugar contributes to baby cavities, obesity, and other harmful health conditions.  As baby grows up, try some clever ideas to reduce the sugar consumption while enjoying the spirit of the holiday.  One parent of a toddler and teenager shares her tip for an almost sugar-free Halloween with WSJ.  She invokes what she calls the Great Pumpkin.  Her children are allowed to choose a handful of candy to eat while leaving the rest next to their pumpkins before going to sleep on Halloween night.  The next morning they discover the Great Pumpkin took their candy and placed a gift in their pumpkin instead.

Here are a few of our posts on the topic of baby cavities:

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TREAT

BABY CAVITIES

BABY TOOTH DECAY

 

 

 


FINE MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT: PINCER GRASP

BABY GAMES:  ZIP THE ZIPPER

a toddler pulls the zipper on a purse

Toddler learns to pull a zipper

pincer grasp

For babies who have learned to use their pincer grasp, a fun game for them is to learn to pull a zipper.  The development of the pincer grasp is strengthened when baby needs to hold an item, such as a zipper pull, between her thumb and first finger as she moves it.  A zipper on a purse, a wallet, a cosmetic bag, or your jacket are fun for her to learn to manipulate.     Try holding the ends of the zipper for her at first, so she can pull the zipper and learn how it works.  Soon, on a smaller item such as a cosmetic bag or wallet, she can hold the item steady with one hand while unzipping the zipper with her other hand.  She may even need you to show her how to hold the zipper pull with her thumb and first index finger (pincer grasp). Look closely at her hand to observe how she is developing her fine motor skills.

Always closely supervise baby as she opens a purse or wallet that may contain items that are not baby-proof, such as coins, paperclips, pens, and other small or sharp objects.  You may want to find a purse and place interesting and baby-proofed items inside for her to discover when she successfully unzips the purse.  She will enjoy the process of discovering the same items are in the bag each time she opens it.  Another dimension of fun for speech development is added if you say “ZIP-ZIP-ZIP” or “ZIP-PER” each time you move the zipper pull to open or close the zipper.  They are intrigued by the sound of the word and will watch you say it each time.


MOTOR SKILL GAMES FOR BABIES WALKING

baby with push-toy in grass

Explore the space in front.

Baby drags push-toy behind her when walking.

Explore the space behind.

toddler pushes toy near edges of a wall

Explore the edges of the space.

A baby plays on the grass at a park and bends her ankles more because of the uneven terrain.

Navigate the uneven terrain.

PUSH-TOYS and SPATIAL AWARENESS

When babies play with push-toys it develops their awareness of the space immediately around them.  By focusing their attention on the moving object at the end of a stick they train their focus to be a bit further in front or behind them.  This skill is important for baby safety because it trains the child to notice when a stair in coming up in front of them or if a toy is lying in their path that might cause a fall.  This awareness is key for developing advanced skills later such as riding a bicycle.  When riding a bicycle a child must keep constant attention on the space in front of them (where they are going) as well as the space around them (so no one runs into them).  Baby develops a clearer sense of the space around them as they also discover the edges of the space.  The edges define the space.

PUSH TOYS AND BABY STRENGTH

Exploring space both inside the home and outside, at a park for example, develop strength in muscles as well as spatial awareness.  The uneven terrain at a park requires more movement of the joints and more strength in the muscles to navigate.  A gradual sloping hill, an edge of a sidewalk next to the grass, a stair, or a metal plate are examples of changes in the terrain that a baby may encounter in an outside play environment.  Each of these requires more demand on the muscles and joints to change the level (on a hill or a stair) or to move from one texture to another (sidewalk to grass).  The open space at a park invites baby to travel a lot and explore which is wonderful motor skill development.