2 months ago
Toddlers must be allowed to play in order to grow. Photo by Kopano Monaheng  ~ 

IT IS a never-ending battle for mums: they want their babies to play but don’t want them getting dirty.

Lesego Mashishi-Matlala, an occupational therapy expert at Huggies, said babies who are constantly held and carried during the first year of life lose valuable opportunities to learn fine co-ordination skills.

“Babies must learn to use their bodies to move and manipulate their environment.”

She said parents and caregivers should manage movement and growth by giving babies safe areas to explore on their own.

Mashishi-Matlala said the first year of life is a time when babies need to strengthen their muscles and bones.

Each stage of physical development offers a new dimension of exploration and pushes the baby to the next stage of development.

She said the natural progression of raw physical development is neck control, rolling, sitting, standing with support, standing without support and then, from 12 to 18 months, walking independently.

Mashishi-Matlala said it is important for parents to let their babies to initiate their own way through developmental phases.

“You allow their brains to develop which includes language development as well as the awareness of interactive spaces.

“This is how babies learn to deal with their environment to get their desired outcome. It starts when they start to learn to crawl and pull themselves up into a standing position.”

During this period, there are more benefits in allowing your baby to master their movements on their own rather than using assisting devices or toys.

Help your baby develop

- Give your baby opportunities to move by him/herself.

- Devices such as sitting aids and walkers should only be introduced once baby has attempted to do the desired movement.

- Make sure that baby is properly fed.

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