Development

What can I do to help my baby’s development?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: My advice is that positioning and exercise is as important for infants as it is for adults. Studies show that “tummy time” is important for cognitive development as well as motor development. No need to over-do it, but all healthy infants should spend some time on their stomachs when awake during the day. Those who resist are like adults who don’t want to exercise.

Spine development, head shape, and neck movement are all improved by tummy time in addition to psycho-motor development. Tight swaddling of the legs should also be avoided because that can lead to hip dysplasia where the hip joint is slightly off center and that leads to early arthritis or dislocation. A SleepSack with an upper torso swaddle attached is the best way to promote safe sleep with the baby on his or her back. The SleepSack and SleepSack Swaddle also allow room for leg movement and healthy hip development while the arms are wrapped to avoid startle response and provide a sense of comfort. Swaddling of infants has become quite popular in the United States, Australia, and Europe. There is also an increase in the frequency of late hip dysplasia documented in Australia that correlates with swaddling, so it’s important to use a swaddle only on the upper extremities. Visit www.hipdysplasia.org for more information.

Charles T. Price, MD, a dad of two grown children and the grandfather of seven-, six-, and three-year-old grandchildren, a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, the director of International Hip Dysplasia Institute, the past president of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, and a co-founder of the Institute for Better Bone Health.

Q&As by Wyatt Myers

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Is my child normal?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Parents frequently want to know if their child is “normal,” or in other words, is their child developing at a normal rate. While there are clearly defined age-related norms for development of physical, language, communication and social skills, there is also a wide variation of what is perceived as “normal.” My daughter developed language skills very early; however, she is having difficulty with toilet training — both of which can be considered normal.

Kevin R. Polsley, MD, a dad of a four-year-old daughter, an assistant professor in the departments of pediatrics and internal medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, as well as a primary care physician at Loyola University Health System