I’ve gotten the chance to work with so many amazing families over the years! I’ve had great conversations with moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, and foster parents about progress their little ones make every day and what skills to expect next as kids keep learning and growing. Likewise, we talk about when development looks atypical, and why kids might choose some movement patterns over others based on muscle tone, weakness, and alignment. Families know their children better than anyone else, but when it comes to motor development, there are some things I hear all the time from families that are really just not true. I’m here to dispel the myths! Here are my top 3:
1. “I think he’s just lazy”. This is a big one! I hear this all the time and it’s 100% not true. There is no such thing as a lazy baby!! There is such a thing as low muscle tone, skeletal malalignment, weak muscles, an immature or impaired neurological system and over or underwhelmed sensory processing. There are so many systems trying to work together to pull off the magical feat of holding your body up and moving through space! So if your little one hasn’t started crawling or walking yet, or your toddler is struggling with a new skill, it’s not because he is “lazy”. It’s for a reason, and your PT can help you figure it out and give you strategies to work on it.
2. “I think she’ll grow out of it”. Again, no! You can’t grow out of atypical movement patterns, stark asymmetries in alignment, significant weakness or the extreme highs and lows of muscle tone. Using the wrong muscles the wrong way to compensate for these is very inefficient! If you wait for kids to “grow out of it” the wrong muscles will only get stronger, further reinforcing this inefficiency. Did you know that typically developing new walkers take an average of 2,368 steps per hour?!? If you have atypical movement patterns, that’s an awful lot of practice walking incorrectly!
Toe walking is the perfect example. When taking those first steps, leading with the toe is to be expected. But what starts out as normal definitely becomes a problem if it lingers. About 6 months after a baby starts walking (roughly 18 months), there should be consistency in the heel hitting the floor first. Torticollis is another example. You definitely do not grow out of torticollis!! I could go on and on about this one but you get the gist!
3. “I think he’ll skip crawling and go straight to walking”. Ok so this one is a wild card, since it definitely does happen (or so I’ve heard). BUT, significant neurological impairments aside, if you’re working with me as your PT, it is very highly likely that you will crawl before you walk. And if you don’t, be assured that we will go back and work on it even after you’re walking. It’s that important! Basically, there’s no getting around crawling. It needs to be a part of your repertoire for strength, coordination, and motor planning.
I’ve been around long enough to know I haven’t heard the last of these pesky long held myths about development. It’s ok….I’ll keep setting the record straight. Now you can too!