Movin’ On Up: A Step-by-Step Guide to Motor Development

New Move: Pushing Up

When it happens: Your baby won’t be able to push himself up until he’s strong enough to lift his head, which is usually around 2 to 3 months. Soon after that, you’ll see him try to use his arms to lift his torso too. His first attempts will bring him only partway: While on his tummy, he’ll raise his head, prop himself up on his elbows, and look around. By 6 months, he should be able to push up onto his hands.

What it takes: Pushing up requires practice. Most babies hate being on their stomach, but tummy time is absolutely necessary for muscle strength and control. "I encourage parents to put kids on their tummy from Day 1," says M. Michael Eisenfeld, MD, a pediatrician at All Children’s Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Florida. "If you start early, your child will get used to it."

How to help: Try laying your baby on your belly as you relax in a recliner. Seeing your face will give him an incentive to push up.

New Move: Rolling Over

When it happens: The first time your baby rolls over — at around 4 to 6 months — she’ll probably be as surprised as you are. "She’ll push up on her tummy, then push up on her hands and shift her weight," says Alice Anderson, a pediatric physical therapist at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. When your baby shifts too much to one side, she’ll roll over flat onto her back.

What it takes: Whether your baby rolls front-to-back or back-to-front first, expect a learning curve. She’ll have to learn to get her arm out of the way, and she’ll need to figure out how to replicate a motion she may have discovered by accident.

How to help: When you see your baby starting to roll, help her position her arm at her side or lift it over her head so she can make it all the way over, says Dr. Eisenfeld.

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