Did you know that if a baby doesn’t develop motor skills when they are an infant they could have significant cognitive impairment when they are older?
According to Sally Goddard Blythe, executive director of the UK’s Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP), in an Irish Times article, a child who has not mastered creeping, crawling, and other motor skills that are typically developed in the first two years of life, may have trouble academically and behaviourally in school.
Goddard Blythe told the newspaper, “What is later seen in the classroom as bad behaviour, lack of impulse control, poor social skills and difficulty in learning, despite good intelligence, may, in some cases, be symptoms of an underdeveloped central nervous system.” She notes that, “children with lower physical skills are performing in the lower third of every group.”
For those kids, Goddard Blythe and her colleagues created a remedial programme that involves 10 minutes of physical skill development every day for an academic year, relearning movements they should have mastered at a much younger age.
The good news is that there are several things new parents can do to encourage the development of these skills. All it takes is a little mindfulness when you’re interacting with your baby. Here are some helpful tips from the Irish Times article:
- Ensure your baby spends lots of time moving, both lying on her tummy and on her back where she can practice reaching and stretching her arms and legs.
- Reduce the amount of time spent in seats. We know how helpful they are, just remember not to overuse them.
- Spend time talking to and touching your baby while he is moving. Avoid using an iPad to entertain him.
- When talking to your baby, wait for her to “talk” back to you by pausing in your “conversation”. She’ll respond by babbling and kicking her feet.