Category Archives: Babies

Sensory and Motor skills for Babies

Infants Vision – Check it out, BABY!


First of all, news alert. Thanks to my husband’s technical help, ot4kids is now on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Please also share this with your families and friends. I hope to post useful resources and updates regarding children’s development and look forward to hearing from you there.

Now onto vision……. 🙂

We know that babies have motor and language milestones. However, don’t forget that they also have visual stages of development. It’s really important to have strong visual foundations as this will help develop more sophisticated ways to see, experience, remember, and learn.

According to the American Optometric Association, it is vital for infants to have a comprehensive “vision wellness” exam at 6 months, 2 years, and 4 years to ensure healthy visual development. I believe that this is especially important for babies and children who have developmental delays and diagnosed medical conditions.

Some interesting vision facts:

-Vision starts developing before birth

-It involves 60-70% of all brain pathways, so it’s really important!

– Apparently, 1 in 10 children will have undiagnosed vision problems that could have been detected early.

– Tummy time and crawling on hands and knees strongly affect visual development.

During tummy time, the baby learns to lift and turn their head, and use their eyes to explore their environment.

When babies learn to crawl on their hands and knees, their eyes also learn to cross midline and look at the opposite hand while they are moving. This encourages eye teaming (both eyes to work together).

Additionally, just as it is important to feed or position your baby on both sides to develop symmetry and equal strength, this also encourages them to use both of their eyes symmetrically.

For suggestions of how to enhance a child’s visual development, check out InfantSee as well as Pg. 3 & 4 of “Jump Start your Baby” for specific suggestions for infants 0-12 months. You can also refer to the vision section of Resources-Fun for Kids and Resources-Links on my site.

To see what a visual exam should entail, check out this YouTube video of Dr. Subramanian completing an InfantSEE examination in the US.

**Remember that early detection can prevent future vision problems.**

The NHS provides free eye tests for all children under 16 years of age. However, make sure that your optometrist is experienced in assessing infants.

Tummy Time and Early Intervention

This is a great resource and should be shared with all parents with babies. I love their documents, pictures, video clips, research, and advice.

Pathways Awareness is an organization in Chicago dedicated to increasing knowledge about the gift of early detection and the benefit of early therapy for infants and children with early motor delays. As an Occupational Therapist, I share this belief and value early detection and Early Intervention for children to prevent problems from escalating and affecting a chlid’s future learning and development.

According to Pathways Awareness, research shows that one in 40 babies is diagnosed with early motor delays and 400,000 babies a year are at risk of developmental delays.  ‘Early motor delay’ can refer to conditions ranging from low muscle tone to Cerebral palsy. Some ‘early motor delays’ are present at birth and others develop or become worse over time. On a positive note, most of these children respond well and catch up quickly when provided early therapy and strategies involving Tummy Time while the baby is awake.

Pathways Awareness has a section on their website called ‘Tummy Time Central.’ It includes details to questions such as: How much Tummy Time does a child need? When to do Tummy Time? And when to be concerned a child is struggling with Tummy Time?

The main points were:

1) Tummy Time helps:

-strengthen neck, shoulders, back, stomach, buttocks, and hand muscles.

-develop eye-hand coordination

-shape arches of the hand for reaching, grasping, and object manipulation

-develop motivation, problem-solving, body and spatial awareness

2) Incorporate Tummy Time into your daily routine such as while carrying the baby, during feeding, or following diaper (nappy) and clothing changes. See their handout called ‘Five Essential Tummy Time Moves’ which contains great images. The site also has video clips of what tummy time should look like and when to be concerned regarding early motor delays.

3) Change the direction your baby lies on their back while sleeping in their crib to build strength and prevent early motor delays.

4) If concerned regarding a child’s development, seek advice from a healthcare provider, Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist who specializes in infants. If they give you a wait-and-see approach, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion or to self-refer to a trained therapist.

**Please share this valuable information with parents, grandparents, friends, nursery and daycare providers, and others.

Too Few Words?

Recently, there was an article in the New York Times regarding ‘When to Worry if a Child has Too Few Words?”

The following points were emphasized:

1) Paediatricians should have a better understanding of speech language development. Early detection results in an earlier start to therapy services, which ultimately, leads to improved prospects.

2) There is more to speech than simply talking. It is important to look at speech development in the broader context of cognition to communication.

3) Speech and language delay is often an indication to global developmental delay or neurodevelopmental disorders. Therefore, it’s critical to also be assessed by an Occupational Therapist as well as a Physiotherapist to determine if there are other delays such as Sensory Processing, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Visual Motor, or Self-Help Skills.

4) Finally, paediatricians are reminded not to look at speech delays casually and to refer on for therapy early.

Sorting Out Developmental Delay for Infants

Today I found a newsletter called A Pediatric Perspective put out by Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, US. I really appreciate their articles focusing on Early Detection and Early Intervention.

This particular article written by a Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician, Dr. Raymond Tervo, M.S., reviews Red Flags for infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children that can indicate Developmental Delays in the areas of language, gross motor, fine motor, and cognitive skills.

The article can be slightly heavy but a great read for parents and definitely for health professionals. It was so nice to read what I say and believe on paper! 🙂

Here are the main points:

1)    PARENTS KNOW BEST!! If a parent is worried, chances are that something needs attention. Concerns may be in areas of speech and language, fine motor / hand skills, cognition, or difficulty reaching motor milestones.

2)    Early detection of problems is vital because brain development is very impressionable at an earlier age. Therefore, if you observe a delay, REFER on early for necessary medical treatments and therapy services. Early Intervention is crucial.

3)    Monitor infants with risk factors such as low birth weight, prematurity, brain bleeds, or known diagnoses including Down Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

4)    Delays in one developmental domain (e.g. language) can impair development in another area (e.g. motor skills and/or cognition).

5)    Red Flags for parents to look out for at specific ages for babies and young children.

Mozart Helping Premature Babies Gain Weight!

Music has a powerful effect on most of us. I know this because I wrote a 200+ page thesis on the Therapeutic Use of Music. 🙂 There has also been lots of research about the scientific, neurologic and developmental benefits of Mozart including its effect on learning. Now, here is an interesting article from the Telegraph about an added benefit…….helping premature babies gain weight! Hope you like it too.