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Developmentally Appropriate Spaces

Infants and toddlers need a safe space that promotes gross motor development. Some ways to create this space in a home is with the use of baby gates or baby fencing. You can use baby fencing to construct a safe zone where a child can move freely, explore their environment and grow their motor skills without having to worry about them getting hurt or encounter dangerous situations. The area should have a soft floor covering like mats or carpet. It can be equipped with climbing blocks and other gross motor furniture. The fencing itself can help children who are in the “stands while holding on” or “walks while holding on” stages. It is important to remember that although a bouncing chair, swings or hoppers appear to keep a child safe, it doesnt promote the natural building of gross motor muscles. Research is uncovering the potential dangers of these sort of baby holders. Early Educators are now being encouraged to rid their centers of these sort of materials and likewise, we are encouraging our families to do the same. Studies have linked these holders to increase chances of SIDs and stunted or deformed growth of bones (such as scoliosis). Babies should never be put in a position they cannot naturally achieve for long periods of time.

I understand that not all households have the space to construct a dedicated ‘safe zone’ but there are other ways to make your home promote gross motor development in safe way. Use child safety devices to block stairs, sharp furniture corners, and unsafe items like cleaning products or outlets. Make sure your baby has plenty of free movement time. That may be tummy time, crawling time or simply time to explore your home with safety and supervision outside of a pack and play or crib.

Also, make sure your child has time outdoors to explore. Nature opens up some many great gross motor opportunities that are hard to come by in the closed space of a home. Inside we discourage running, jumping, and climbing, playing with balls, jump ropes, and bicycles, but outside is where that magic can happen with the safety to both your child and your lamps.

It is important to know that children learn and grow through exploration. You can create environments that encourage development such as the safe zones mentioned before but you should never try to push it. It is hard to know the difference sometimes. We all want our children to succeed developmentally and educationally. Fostering development is giving your child the tools they need to develop their skills on their own. Try not to push your child to learn to roll over, crawl or walk before they have mastered the previous skill. Allow your child to get into a position on their own. The process of getting in the position, although they may struggle at first, is more important than achieving the position. “They will reach each milestone just when they are ready, and their own inner time table will dictate when that will be (Gonzalez-Mena, Eyer).”

Some developing toddler skills may look more like mess making than educational moments but it all falls under the importance of developmentally appropriate environments. Wandering, carrying and dumping are all gross motor skills your little one needs to establish. Especially before the age of three, children are in almost constant motion. It is important to have an environment that peak’s their interest and curiosity and can safely support their movements. Keeping toys available and understanding that they are going to be dumped, moved around, abandoned and dropped is apart of making the environment appropriate. Provide large light weight blocks, wheeled toys,

and indoor climbing equipment to encourage development and skills.

Keeping up with child development is important in identifying when early intervention services or assessments need to be out in place. Child development resources can help families feel secure, supported and knowledgeable in making decisions that better their child’s development. When finding resources for services, make sure the resource is current and relevant to the child. A good resource is easy to access, the contact information is obvious, takes into account cultural diversity, and provides information in more than one language. These resources should be made of information that is fact driven, developmentally based, and professionally referenced.


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