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Normal Development

Dear Mommies,


At Nurtured Life we know that it can be overwhelming and a lot of “information overload” when you bring a little one into the world. Whether it is your first, second, third or fourth child, as time progresses, there seem to be new ‘expectations’ as a mother and new ‘crazes’ that everyone is recommending. Bombarded by every well-meaning person in your life, as well as social media and technology throwing out their suggestions and recommendations, it is not making it any easier for you. Nurtured Life is here to support you and put your mind at ease.


First things first - YOU ARE THE MOM AND YOU KNOW BEST

It is crucial that as a mother you recognise that this baby is yours and your partners first. Trust YOUR gut. A mother’s gut is the truest voice to follow when making all decisions regarding your baby’s health and well-being.


Second - GO BACK TO THE BASICS

Technology is a blessing and a curse. Through social media and advertising, we are exposed to a craze of different products, different tips on eating and sleeping schedules, and different opinions on what to do when a baby cries. Again, the truest means of parenting is to follow your innate instincts. Before there was sleep therapy, swaddle blankets and dieting steps, babies slept and fed on mom, on demand. They were cuddled when they cried and they were attached to the breast as and when they needed to be.



So now let’s take a look at development:

‘Normal Development’ is a list of age bracketed milestones that guides a family in identifying whether their baby is on par with their development. However, they are not rigid or fixed, but should rather be understood as a guideline. Take the exact ‘milestones’ with a pinch of salt and use them to guide you in monitoring your baby’s development, rather than stick to the guide rigidly. However, it is still important to be aware of some of the ‘red flags’, which indicate a delay in development, as early intervention is key.


At Nurtured Life we offer developmental screenings for the reasons below:

1. To share with mommies what is ‘realistic’ for their baby to achieve at a certain age. I say ‘realistic’ as a number of factors can influence a baby’s development and expectation for development. The biggest factors being: babies who were born prematurely and babies who were very sick at or soon after birth. A baby born prematurely has been removed from the safety and nourishment of the womb earlier than intended and thus they have not had the full term to develop all of their skills within the womb before having to come out into the world. These babies thus should not be expected to perform against milestones of a baby who was born at term. Furthermore, they are often kept in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a few days, weeks or even months and thus they have not had the same environmental opportunities as a term baby to grow, explore and follow the path of ‘normal development’. This is the same for a baby who was very sick within their first year of life. A baby who spends a prolonged time in a hospital has not received the same stimulation, exposure and experiences as a healthy baby who has had the opportunity to learn and grow in the safety of their home and thus cannot be compared to a typical milestone. Therefore, at Nurtured Life we teach our moms to calculate their baby’s ‘corrected age’ so that when using developmental milestones as a guideline, they are following them accurately.



2. Although developmental milestones are just a guideline, it is still important for us to screen all babies to make sure that there are no ‘red flags’ or developmental delays that may hinder development. As occupational therapists, we are passionate about early identification and early intervention. Research is showing that the sooner we work with babies and their families whose development may be a little ‘stuck’, the better their outcome later on. I have worked with many school-going children who experience difficulties within the classroom due to areas that could have been worked on from the start.


3. Here are some red flags:

Before 1 years old:

• Does not notice someone new

• Does not play early turn-taking games (e.g. peekaboo, rolling a ball)

• Not sharing enjoyment with others using eye contact or facial expression

• Not babbling phrases that sound like talking

• Not responding to familiar words (e.g. bottle, daddy)

• Does not hold objects

• Does not ‘give’ objects on request

• Cannot move a toy from one hand to another

• Has not yet learned to crawl, commando crawling, bottom shuffle

• Is not yet pulling to stand independently and holding on for support

• Avoids or dislikes being held; does not like being touched

• Resists being calmed; cannot be comforted

• Cries often

• Almost appears “too good”; happy to lie alone with little engagement


Before 2 years old:

• Not responding to their name when called

• Avoids (or limited) eye contact with family and familiar individuals

• Little interest in toys

• Is not walking by 18 months

• Appears to have stiff arms or legs

• Pushes away or arches back when held close or cuddled

• Has not yet developed any spoken language

• Has not developed non-verbal communication (not pointing to things to show interest or desire)

• Is not participating in feeding (even finger food); a fussy eater; not eating a varied diet

• Dislikes certain textures of clothes; toys

• Cries frequently when in a busy environment (shopping center; restaurants; nursery)

• Startled by noises or sounds that appear harmless

• Does not scribble with a crayon; shows no interest in drawing tools (when coupled with a few other red flags)

• Does not attempt to stack blocks after demonstration (when coupled with a few other red flags)



Nurtured Life’s screenings are not only there for baby; this is a space for our mothers to come and ask 100 questions freely; to chat to someone in a safe space; and to just get some reassurance that they are amazing, they are doing their absolute best and that they know what is right for their baby. Our heart at Nurtured Life is about complete wellness, for parent and babe. #mamainstinct


If you want more details please contact us on social media @nurturedlifemediwell or via e-mail nurturedlifejhb@gmail.com


Love Dani-Lee and Jen

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