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Influence of child-rearing practices on infants' motor development between the sixth and twelfth months of life

BACKGROUND: Child-rearing practices are defined as specific behavioral patterns used during maternal duties. These practices could influence infants' motor development. OBJECTIVE: To verify the influence of daily child-rearing practices on the motor development of healthy infants from their sixth to twelfth months of life. METHOD: Fourteen healthy full-term infants were selected and longitudinally assessed at the ages of six, nine and twelve months using the Alberta Infant Motor Scale. At each assessment, the mothers answered a closed questionnaire about their main daily childcare practices when the infant was awake. The infants' predominant posture, the places where they were usually kept and how mothers carried the infants in their arms were evaluated. RESULTS: Motor performance at the ninth month was positively influenced by predominance of the hands-and-knees crawling posture, in relation to sitting, prone or supine postures, and by staying on the floor in relation to being in a baby buggy. At the twelfth month, it was positively influenced by hands-and-knees crawling and standing postures. The predominant posture at the sixth month and the way of carrying the infants at six, nine and twelve months did not influence motor development in the study group. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that practices that stimulate adoption of the hands-and-knees crawling posture, and utilization of the floor as a place to keep the infant, positively influence the motor development of healthy infants from six months of age onwards.

motor development; infant; environment; child-rearing practices

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