Today, Alistair turns eight months old. (I know, I can’t believe it either!)
Because Alistair was born nine weeks early, his development (size and skill) has always been approximately two months behind other babies his age. Upon discharge from the NICU, we were referred to the Infant Development Program with the Developmental Disabilities Association. In order to assist babies with developmental delays, this program partners with their families to provide support, information, and encouragement.
At no cost to us, our family was assigned an uber-friendly consultant who monitors Alistair’s development through home visits and assessments. As preemie’s muscle tone can sometimes need a bit of extra assistance, they also provided physiotherapy appointments for Alistair. While Alistair can remain in this program until he’s three years old, we can choose to opt out at any time if we feel it’s no longer needed. Alistair is doing extremely well but we enjoy having the extra support and encouragement in ensuring that Ali’s meeting his goals.
I get asked all the time if he’s “Crawling yet?” “Rolling over?” “What’s a baby his age supposed to be doing?” Due to his two month delay, we’re currently working on our 6 month milestones (rather than 8.) All babies learn and develop at their own pace, some hit milestones weeks early and others, weeks late. Our goal isn’t to compare Alistair to other infants, rather to ensure that he’s on track and meeting his goals. The Infant Development Program helps us with this.
So, what milestones should a six month old baby be meeting? Here are a few of Ali’s current goals:
Fine & Gross Motor Skills:
– While on his back, lift his feet high enough to see them.
– Roll from back to tummy.
– Lean against his hands while sitting (or sit up on his own).
– Bear his own weight while standing with support.
– Get up onto his hands and knees in the crawling position.
– Pick up a small toy with only one hand and hold it in his palm.
– Attempt to reach, touch and/or pick up a small object (pea size) with his hand.
– Look in the direction of a loud sound or voice.
– Use one syllable sounds such as “ga,” “da,” “ba,” etc.
– Start to imitate sounds.
– When placed in front of a mirror: cooing, smiling and reaching out to pat it.
– Play by grabbing his foot or putting it in his mouth.
– React differently to strangers than to familiar people.
– Look for or pick up a toy that he’s dropped.
– Pick up and put a toy in his mouth.
– Pass a toy from one hand to the other.
– Bang a toy against the table.
The past few weeks have been especially exciting as we’ve started to notice his little personality beginning to shine through. Since he hates tummy time, Alistair has figured out how to purposely roll from his stomach to his back and has begun standing with support. Last month also marked our introduction to solids. The clear winners of the “favourite food competition” are the avocado and butternut squash, while the jar of mushed green beans is definitely in the running for “least favourite.” And before you ask, yes – he’s still teething (four months now!) and no – we still don’t have anything poking through.
Alistair hasn’t quite met all of his milestones yet but he’s definitely working towards them! To encourage him, we’re working on activities such as: playing with interesting household items of different shapes and textures, singing and reading together, bouncing to rhyme and rhythm, experimenting with different vocal sounds (whispers, clicks, high or low voice) and repeating any sounds that he makes.
Most preemie’s have completely caught up by two years of age and Alistair is making huge strides towards this goal. It’s amazing to see how rapidly he changes and grows. Every milestone brings excitement to our family and we’re thrilled to see Alistair transforming from a tiny preemie into a little man!