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Posts Tagged ‘child development’

There is nothing that fascinates the mother of a young baby as much as their little darling’s development. We watch carefully for signs of progress, be it rolling, sitting up, crawling and the holy grail of baby development, walking! And we assume that other people are as equally fascinated and (particularly in the case of first borns) can be guilty of being an utter bore about it. Get a group of mothers in the same room and it becomes a competitive sport. You may well hear a lot of crowing about how old little Johnny was when he crawled, isn’t he advanced since he walked at 9 months, oh how clever he is because he picked up a piece of plastic tomato with his thumb and forefinger at 28 weeks. Those of us with less exceptional children still squirming around on their tummies grit our teeth and tell ourselves that it doesn’t mean little Johnny is a genius and that ours will excel at school instead of on the carpet.

Except that now, we can’t. A new study indicates that there is a correlation between early development of gross and fine motor skills before age one and cognitive ability at age 5. In the study of 15,000 children:

Children who failed at nine months to reach four key milestones in gross motor development, relating to sitting unaided, crawling, standing and taking their first walking steps, were found to be five points behind on average in cognitive ability tests taken at age five, compared to those who passed the milestones.

Yikes. So babies who are ‘slow’ physically are likely to be thicker? Is that what they are saying? I guess so, but of course like all cohort studies, it means diddly squat for individual children. I am sure many of us with more than one child can point to instances where this doesn’t hold up. But the number of children in the study is impressively large, so I don’t think we can dismiss the findings out of hand. If we take them at face value though, what do they actually mean? Apparently the report says:

‘This finding highlights the importance of early screening for developmental delay at ages under one year, as a tool to promote positive child development.’

So now failing to walk before a year is a ‘delay’?!? [Incidentally, why does the Guardian have to use the headline ‘Children can fall behind as early as nine months’?? Why use the phrase ‘fall behind’? Behind what? Why does it all have to be so competitive?!? Pffffffffffffffffffffft.] I hope that this doesn’t (but am afraid that it will) mean that parents would be subjected to (even more) scrutiny about the development of their child. And to what end? Just because there is a correlation between early crawling and cognitive ability doesn’t mean that if you make your baby crawl earlier (how?!) they will be smarter. Maybe it’s just how babies are? I find the report fascinating, and since it sheds light on how our children develop it’s all good. But I worry that it will be yet another stick used to beat parents with, and we are already obsessed enough about these things as it is. I am having a flashback to my eldest daughter’s 8 month check where the Health Visitor tut tutted about her not being able to pick up a piece of fluff from the carpet in a pincer grip. Maybe that is why she is struggling with maths.

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