There is an age-old argument about whether people are born with all their intelligence and abilities already there, or do they pick them up from the world around them. And the simple answer is: both.

Before your baby can learn to do something, her muscles and nervous system must grow to a certain level of development. This growth follows a timetable that is set by her inherited genes. After the right amount of development, her system is ready for particular activities.

Now environment comes in. Once she’s ready, the child must have an opportunity to use her new capacity.

If the opportunity is present, she will learn the activity easily and well and she will be ready to learn other skills which depend on learning the earlier skill.

But if the opportunity is missing or delayed, she will learn the skill much later, less well, and with greater effort, or maybe not at all.

Growing Child will help you evaluate your baby’s progress and will describe when the typical child is ready to do certain things.

Then you can give your child the needed opportunities when the ideal time approaches.

Dance with your baby?

Your baby learns from the movement she experiences as she is being lifted, held, carried and cared for as well as from the movements of her own body.

Her nervous system is not yet completely developed and she startles easily.

A loud noise, a sudden movement or loss of support is very frightening to her.

However, gentle rhythmic motion is soothing. This is why she responds to being rocked or walked when she is uncomfortable or wakeful.

The same is true of a gentle dance. If you enjoy moving to music and if you like to dance your baby will enjoy it too.

Find some music that is soft and rhythmic – a waltz or ballad. Hold your baby gently but firmly so that she feels secure. Then sway from side to side, move forward and backward, turn and twist in time to the music.

Your movements will stimulate the sense organs deep within your baby’s ears. The sensations she experiences will help her develop the position sense and balance she will need when she tries to sit, stand and walk.

If you hum along with the music your baby will get additional stimulation from the vibration of your chest.

If you enjoy moving to music, your happiness will communicate itself to your baby as you hold her.