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Developmental Stages

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not one of those moms who's constantly comparing my kid's developmental stages to other kids' developmental stages. If anything, I show signs of Baby Narcissism -- as in, I think my child is the cutest, sweetest, happiest, most well adjusted baby on the planet.

Now that we have that squared away, I'm starting to fear that Preston is a slow developer in terms of his strength and physicality. I heard babies are either "verbal" or "physical" (but not usually both), and I already know he falls more into the "verbal" category -- he said "dada" at only four months, and he said "mama" last weekend, at only eight months -- but he's still not totally sitting up on his own, and he's a long way from crawling on all fours.

At eight months old, Preston is 19 lbs. and 30 inches tall, and he topples over when he sits independently for more than a few minutes, and isn't able to get himself back up. I sort of expected it, since he was very slow to hold his head up. But he has recently perfected the rollover -- his mobility consists of him flip-flopping his way around -- and he stands (with my help) very solidly, thanks to his Baby Einstein jumper.

But none of that changes the fact that he's not sitting up totally on his own yet. It's been a little frustrating for us -- because he's so big for his age (90th percentile for height), people expect more from him. He looks like a one-year old, and even acts older in terms of how responsive he is, so people tend to treat him like he's older. And, the babies in his music class half his size are sitting up better than he is! When he was seven months old, I was talking to his music teacher about his penchant for lying on his back.

"But all of our friends' kids were sitting up by now, some were even crawling," I said, with a hint of self-deprecation.

"Please tell me you're not comparing your baby to your friends' babies. You know that every kid develops at a different pace, right?" she said.

"Um, of course I'm not comparing him to other kids, but I'm just saying..." (Total lie.)

"But you should talk to your doctor about it, because he probably should be sitting up by now," she replied.

And there you have it.

It's not like I'm spending my time worrying about trivial things -- like the fact that his hair won't grow on the back of his head since he's always lying on it. Preston is perfect in every other way (great sleeper, good eater, etc.). But when it comes to sitting up, after a few minutes he loses his balance and lets himself fall flat on his face, and then he'll twist around so that he's lying on his back again -- it's the position he prefers. If he could spend his whole life lying on his back, with bubbles floating over his head and toys dangling in his face, he would. I've asked him.

We move toys around and strategically place things so he has to try to reach for them from a sitting position, or even try to crawl to them. It's helping him strengthen his back muscles, for sure, but he'd still rather be horizontal. I do everything I can think of to force him to stay on his stomach for longer periods of time -- we stimulate him with every trick in the book, trying to strengthen his back, neck and abdomen muscles.

But the kid wants to lie on his back. It's just that simple.

And now he's even figured out how to crawl backwards, while lying on his back. Picture it. He does back-bends too, using his head. He has an affinity for looking at the world upside down lately. He gets a real kick out of it. I have no idea what that's all about...

Normally I wouldn't worry about it -- but I've come to a few of my own conclusions about why he's showing signs of low muscle tone and, frankly, it's making me think this might be somewhat hereditary. 1) He's extremely flexible. I know all babies are built like wet noodles, but this kid literally folds in half with no problem. I think he's going to be double jointed (like me). 2) I'm double jointed to the point of being injury prone. I have very loose joints, which has led to torn ligaments and broken bones. In fact, my life is marked by injuries. My brother's bar-mitzvah in 1983: On crutches from a dislocated knee cap. Seat-filler for the Oscars in '97: I was sporting a very stylish cast for my broken wrist. My engagement on March 21, 2008: I tore my ACL and meniscus a week later and had total reconstructive knee surgery, and spent the majority of my six-month engagement in rehab for it. And 3) I'm not exactly built like an ox; I guess I'm what you'd call petite. And I have never been terribly athletic either, or much of a worker-outer. See what I mean? Did Preston inherit these problems from me? My biggest fear is that my child(ren) will have similar problems, and I wonder if there's even anything I can do about it. Or worse, maybe he inherited my laziness!

At eight months old, I just wonder if I should be alarmed that he's so resistant to being on his stomach or sitting up? Does this mean he has low muscle tone, or is it normal for an almost nine-month old to not be anywhere close to crawling yet? From everything I'm reading online, he should be sitting independently by now, and even crawling. Our nine-month doctor appointment is coming up, so I'll definitely bring this up with our pediatrician -- but I'd love to know what your experience has been (even though I know all kids develop at different paces).

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