We've all heard about babies whose feet never touch the ground because so many adoring aunts, uncles, and grandparents want to hold them. Well, don't be surprised if that coddled little bundle takes longer than his not-so-pampered playmates to roll over, sit up, or crawl.
Same goes for a child born into a family where older siblings do everything -- such as fetching a toy before he reaches for it or asking Mom to refill a bottle before he cries for it. As a result, it can take much longer for this baby to verbalize what she wants in comparison to other children who don't have doting relatives anticipating their every need.
Also, the campaign to put children to sleep on their back -- which has dramatically reduced the rate of SIDS -- has had an unintended side effect: Many babies spend less time on their stomach, either because they're not used to it and therefore don't like it or because their parents don't put them in that position during the day. Babies who are left to play on their tummy develop upper-body strength and balance skills -- both of which are needed for rolling over, sitting up, and walking -- sooner than babies who are always being held or put in a bouncer or swing, says Barry Lester, PhD, director of the Infant Development Center of Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island.