Posts Tagged ‘ Crawling ’

Parenting Principle #5: Cultivate Exploration

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on cultivating the innate need to explore.

Right from birth, babies are explorers. They come equipped with the skills to scan their world for interesting information and process it in a meaningful way. Stick your tongue out at a newborn … and they may stick their tongue out too. Watch as babies orient to your voice when you are not right in front of them. Stroke their cheek and observe the rooting reflex. All this happens very early, before they can get around on their own.

The principle of exploration should be cultivated at every developmental stage. You won’t be doing damage to a baby’s brain by letting them look at a screen – but they will explore much more if you interact with them because they will be scanning your face for all kinds of signals that are constantly changing. Well before they walk they are equipped to use their developing motor skills to not only move around their world but to get to things they want to touch – that’s why crawling is so important for cognitive development. Walking babies and toddlers are moving about to explore. While it’s up to you to give them safe boundaries and set parameters, understand that they are trying to soak up information – so help them do that as safely as possible, and as much as possible.

What about the toddler years? Maybe it’s a little annoying, but banging on a pot in the kitchen is the stuff of cognitive exploration. They don’t need anything fancy – they can do plenty with an empty box, or a blank piece of paper and crayons. Arts and crafts should be paramount, as all that fine motor manipulation is not only important in its own right, but in fact promotes higher order cognitive processes. Take them with you and treat your outings as chances for them to explore. It’s not just the grocery store – it’s a large structure with all kinds of sensory stimulation and people to observe. Share their wonder and encourage them to take it all in.

As they get older, give them lots of opportunities to try lots of things. Parenting culture favors overspecialization at younger and younger ages. Who knows what a kid will want to do when they are older? Give them a chance to try out a lot of things – in part to send the message that they should feel free to explore and figure out what they want to do more of when they are of age. No matter what age, they should always have a sense of wonder about the world.

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Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities
Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities
Playing With Baby: Memory Building Activities

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Why Crawling Matters … A Lot

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Parents get very excited when a baby takes those first steps. As they should. It’s quite the milestone. But all the fuss about walking can diminish the very real benefits that come from babies moving themselves around their world before they can walk.

There are, in fact, many developmental benefits of crawling, including the obvious all-around opportunities for motor development. Developmentalists detail all kinds of advantages including optimizing sensory processing and integration. Relatedly, there are cognitive benefits that should not be overlooked. When babies are crawling, it gives them a chance to explore their environment and platforms them to manipulate objects. This kind of controlled and active discovery is the stuff of brain development. In the laboratory setting, babies who have more experience crawling are more apt to explore and extract information from objects – and are more advanced at later ages in terms of cognitive development. Babies need that time to take in and integrate their sensory information, and use all their senses (touching is especially important) to formulate the abstract principles that fuel cognitive development. For example, babies who have experience manipulating three-dimensional objects will be more likely to “know” that three dimensions exist when tested in the laboratory setting – their eye movements will continuing scanning images for “hidden” dimensionality in objects that other babies will miss.

All of this may sound rather “academic,” but the intention here is deliberate. It’s very easy to be thrilled seeing a baby walk. It’s not so obvious that a crawling baby is doing all kinds of highly sophisticated cognitive processing (which is more detectable in the laboratory than every day life). What’s the point of all this? Simply put – don’t be in a rush to get your baby to walk. Don’t go out of your way to promote walking when they should be crawling. Babies walk when they are ready to walk. Some do it earlier, some do it later. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is going out of your way to let your baby crawl, and to be able to find safe and interesting objects to explore. There’s a reason babies crawl before they can walk.

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Activity Tips: Nate 12 Months - Help Baby to Crawl
Activity Tips: Nate 12 Months - Help Baby to Crawl
Activity Tips: Nate 12 Months - Help Baby to Crawl

Baby Crawling via Shutterstock.com

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