Remember! If your baby spent a long time in neonatal, has had repeat admissions and/or was born prematurely then it is expected that physical development may happen at baby’s own pace. Prematurely born children should have physical development judged by corrected age until their second birthday.
Baby has difficulty learning to sit independently.
Sensory explanation: there can be a few different sensory explanations for this, including a combination of these. In order to sit independently, the vestibular and proprioceptive must be working efficiently and processing information correctly. Sitting involves normalised muscle tone, as well as activation and firing of the proper trunk and pelvic muscles; all which involve proprioceptive feedback. Balance and fine tuning of the vestibular system are also needed for independent sitting.
Ideas to help:
Baby is very slow to achieve gross motor milestones (e.g. rolling, crawling, walking).
Sensory explanation: all gross motor skills require the brain and body to be communicating efficiently and effectively. Even if one sensory system is not processing at the same pace as the others it can mean there is a delay in achieving motor skills as essentially the brain can become scrambled with too many signals to sort out and achieve.
Ideas to achieve:
Baby prefers to “W” sit.
Sensory explanation: W-sitting is when one sits on the floor with either leg splayed out behind to form a “W” shape rather than both legs to the centre or one side. It is strongly discouraged as it can cause problems with hip and knee joints. It also does not involve crossing midline and trunk rotation, which are crucial for brain development. Often a baby W-sits when she is seeking proprioception to the lower body or has poor trunk tone/poor pelvic stability.
Ideas to help:
Avoids crawling on all fours and prefers scooting on bottom.
Sensory explanation: there can be many factors in this, some sensory and some more generally developmental. From a sensory standpoint, there are many systems working. The change in head position must be tolerated well by the vestibular system. Also the visual system may not tolerate or process this different position in prone; the sensitive palms of the hands may also be averse to being used along the floor which might prove a startling texture. From the developmental point of view, bilateral coordination (both sides of the body), shoulder stability, upper and lower body weight shifting, normalised trunk tone, body awareness and more are all things to consider that may be stopping the child from achieving or perfectly the crawling motion.
Ideas to help:
Lastly, an important consideration to a reluctance to perform certain fine or gross motor skills may be a reaction to environment or the feel of something. If a baby or child is averse or overwhelmed by some touch sensations, they will be reluctant or anxious about interacting with something. This can apply to handling objects and also surfaces to move across or through. if the environment is overwhelming generally, setting off one or more sensory triggers, then the child may also “freeze” and feel unable to either move or communicate. If you suspect this may be the case, get your Sherlock hat on and see if you can find out which are the offensive triggers! Finally, as a very last point, all children are different and reach different points at different times. If your little one is naturally shy or anxious, he or she may prefer to make these first connections alone away from both loved ones or a wider crowd.
WEBSITE DISCLAIMER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY
The information within this section is provided as a resource tool for general advice and recommendations regarding sensory integration and sensory processing development. Sensory enriched activities are beneficial for all children. This website is in no way intended to replace medical intervention or individual therapy. Please consult with your child’s paediatrician therapist for a customized program. The activities suggested on this website require direct supervision. The information on this website is attributed to Angie Voss, OTR.