The Developmental Sequence: What Every Parent Should Know
As a new parent, your thoughts are filled with excitement, joy, and then thoughts of will I be a good mother or father? How will I know what to do? Naturally, you have many questions and you want the best for your child. You think about their future, what will he or she be? Maybe a doctor, maybe a lawyer, or maybe a professional athlete. You read books, listen to podcasts, talk to other parents, and you think you got this, but what if I told you that there is a world of information that the majority of our community doesn’t even know. Something so crucially important for our child’s developing brain. This piece of information is The Developmental Sequence.
We all know babies go through milestones, and we have a pretty good idea of what those milestones are and what time frame they should be completed by. We know how important these milestones are but in all reality we really don’t know why. How does a baby develop their neurology?
The baby’s first year of life is the most important year of their life, they go from a completely helpless newborn to a walking talking individual, this quite impressive and fascinating in my mind. But how does this happen?
During the first year of life a baby’s movements plays a crucial role in the developing brain, and these movement are not just any movements, its specific movements that are found in The Developmental Sequence. The Developmental Sequence is what babies unimpaired or impeded will go through naturally if given the opportunity.
Babies are born with everything needed to organize their brain and body to its fullest potential. Just as they have arms and legs they cannot fully utilize yet; they have levels of the brain they cannot access yet. You cannot simply speak to the brain to grow, every brain is developed by movement, whole body reflexive patterns, and sensory stimulation. Each level of the brain is made available through a process called myelination. Myelin is a white fatty substance that covers the nerves much like the insulation on a electrical cord, which allow electricity to flow. The Developmental Sequence is what grows that myelin sheath to access the next levels of the brain building a solid foundation.
There are 5 stages of movement in the Developmental Sequence: movement without mobility, tummy crawling (not just tummy time), creeping on hands and knees (what society today calls crawling), walking, and running. Just like you have to walk before you can run, you should tummy crawl before you can creep. These movements are important for physical structures. During tummy crawling, moving from point A to point B, the infant is beginning to establish the cervical and lumbar alignment of the spine, and the force that is produce by the baby pushing off the floor during tummy crawling helps stabilizes their hip sockets. Our hips sockets are very shallow when we are born, it through that movement that we start forming a solid hip socket. Pushing on the floor also stimulates the arches in the foot. How flat footed we are could be genic but also could be lack of tummy crawling. Tummy crawling will lead to better stability and mobility of proximal joints.
When babies are tummy crawling, they have to opportunity to receive more stimulus to the pelvic area and in most cases be more likely to toilet train at a reasonable age. So parents if you want your child to toilet train on time, encourage lots of tummy crawling.
During the stage of tummy crawling, the baby begins to develop horizonal eye tracking, very important for reading and the ability to track words on a page from left to right. The foundation of fine motor skills are developed as well, each movement the baby makes is called supination/pronation, super important when it comes to gripping a pencil and being able to manipulate the tiniest things. There are many other foundations that are developed such life preserving boundaries are awaken during tummy crawling making them aware and respond appropriately to heat, cold, pain and hunger. These sensations are needed to understand to save our own life. I could go but that would be a whole other blog.
Now that your baby has had an adequate amount of time to tummy crawl they are now ready to move on to the next level of the brain and start creeping on hands and knees. This will bring their knees and feet to line up with their hip socket in preparation for walking. Vertical eye tracking and convergence is developed at this time. Vertical eye tracking is important for reading and math columns. Convergence is both eyes looking at the same thing at the same time which is critical piece needed for depth perception, attention, focus and reading comprehension. This little baby will gain proprioception, knowing where he or she is in space important for understand personal space. There are multipede of development that happens for your baby at this stage such as the ability to store, and retrieve information, observe details, and coordinate left and right and so much more, again another whole blog.
Sensory stimulation is it is what every infant needs to receive visual, auditory, or tactile stimulation. We are constantly touching our infants, from changing diapers, changing clothes, kisses, and hugs, which provides so much sensory input. This stimulation develops the sensory pathways which will lead to proper brain development. This helps the child learn about the world around them and how to communicate and form attachments.
Each movement plays an important role neurologically but also physically. Every brain develops from the bottom up with the first level providing a foundation for the second and the second for the third and so on. It is important that each level is fully developed, leaving no gaps in the foundations a gap will affect the function of the upper levels. In essence, those levels that aren’t fully develop, later on in life can have an impact on emotions, behaviour issues, academic struggles, or problems with motor skills.
So, readers, take your child out of their containers, their bumbo, their bouncy seat, the play pen, their exersaucers and put them on the floor and give them the opportunity to organically go through The Developmental Sequence allowing them optimal brain development.
“The floor is the child’s neurological workshop.” Ian Hunter