The Shapiro Files

Monday, March 05, 2007

Melody Update

Baby Shapiro 2 will be here in less than two days! I will be sure to post photos and details as soon as possible after his/her arrival. But until then. I thought I should take some time out to give an update on Melody. It occurred to me that I never posted anything about our adventures involving her gross motor delay (a term that sounds much worse than it is) and thought it might be helpful to other parents who are going through the same thing if I shared a little bit about what’s been going on.

First and foremost, Melody has been a wonderful baby. She’s sweet as can be, social, and very bright. The term “gross motor delay” simply means that she’s late to crawling and walking. Her fine motor skills (i.e. picking things up and manipulating small objects) are perfectly normal and her verbal/mental skills are especially strong (more on this in a little bit).

I should note that Melody does get around on her own, but her method of transporting herself is by sitting upright on the ground (with her legs mostly stretched out in front of her) and scooting from place to place, pushing with her arms in an almost skiing-style motion. It’s as funny as it sounds and she has so much fun doing it! She particularly loves scooting up and down the hallway and around the kitchen. And after several months of getting around this way, she’s gotten extremely proficient at getting wherever she wants to go.

So overall, the gross motor delay is a pretty minor issue in the larger scheme of things and one that’s pretty easily addressed. But just why has she been delayed in crawling/walking? Well, there are three prevailing opinions:
  1. 1. Increasingly more kids have been delayed in crawling over the past decade because just about all children sleep on their backs nowadays as a result of SIDS-related concerns. So if parents aren’t highly proactive about implementing “tummy time” on a regular basis, their kids don’t always get sufficiently comfortable with lying face down (pretty much a prerequisite for crawling).
  2. 2. Melody happens to have an incredibly easy-going temperament (family friend Alice calls her “Mellow Melody”). While many kids take to crawling in order to get to something out of reach, Melody has always been content with hanging out and entertaining herself with just those things within reach.
  3. 3. We’re first-time parents and as is often the case with new parents, are extremely attentive to each and every one of Melody’s wishes. So without realizing it, we help Melody to get the things she wants without making her work for it. This is why you’ll very rarely see a gross motor delay in second (or later) children.
It’s most likely a combination of all three of these that has resulted in Melody’s delay. To address this, we’ve been taking her to pediatric physical therapy since December and she’s been making very good progress. Over the past few months, she’s gotten very good at rolling over from back-to-front and then pushing herself up to a sitting position. She is also able to stand unsupported for very long periods of time when bracing herself against objects such as our coffee table, couch, or her crib railing. She’s even able to walk with our assistance (keeping her upright by holding her arms in front of her). She definitely seems on the verge of performing all the main gross motor actions on her own (pulling to a stand, crawling on all fours, cruising, and walking) and no one — certainly not her physical therapist — seems particularly worried about her getting to where she needs to be. In fact, I’m always surprised how many other parents tell us that their kids have had a similar delay, with several not walking until they were 2 or even a little older. So while Melody’s tardiness to crawling/walking is outside the average range, it’s not incredibly rare either.

On a final note, Melody’s pediatrician recommended that Melody have a full evaluation at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford just to be on the safe side. I’m happy to report that she completely blew us away during the cognitive/language testing. She did great on all the tests and is even at a 2-year level with language recognition and organizational skills. We were worried that she might be a little uncomfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings and would freeze up. But she had a great time and loved all the “games” they had her play. Her physical evaluation also seemed to pretty definitely conclude that she doesn’t have any sort of neurological issue. In the end, the recommendation was simply that she just needs more physical therapy. As bright as we know she is, it was wonderful to get that validated from the professional community!

So that’s the saga. I hope hearing our story will be helpful to other parents whose children are also late to gross motor activities. Feel free to click the “comments” link below to share your stories. We’d love to hear them!


  • Glad to hear that's everything is well with Melody! I was actually very slow on walking... I didn't have any serious problems, but I was extremely shy and was afraid of walking.

    By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 3/05/2007 7:37 PM  

  • Irina,

    Thanks for your comment. It's pretty amazing that in addition to meeting lots of parents who say their kids are delayed with walking, so many people tell me that they themselves were late walkers! Melody isn't especially shy, but like you as a child, she too is pretty cautious when it comes to physical activity.

    In all events, it always makes us feel reassured when we hear from people like you who tell us they were late walkers. So thanks for the reassurance!

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/05/2007 8:38 PM  

  • Can't wait to see Schmelody schmallison!!! Hope everything comes out okay =] -Susannah

    By Blogger Princess Susannah, at 3/06/2007 12:25 PM  

  • Thanks, Susannah! We can't wait either! Stay tuned...

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/06/2007 3:22 PM  

  • Came in here via a google blog search (on the obvious!). Congrats on the baby and (let me say it) what a lovely name, she'll love it I'm sure :)

    By Anonymous Melody, at 3/08/2007 5:04 AM  

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