Babies who can’t sit up at 9 months ‘struggle at school’

Babies who are unable to crawl at nine months face falling behind at school and struggle to get on with their classmates, a study has revealed.

It found that an inability to reach milestones such as sitting upright or crawling is linked to learning and behaviour problems. The researchers, who tracked 15,000 children over the first five years of their lives, said a simple screening test before a child reaches their first birthday could prove crucial in preventing youngsters falling behind. Babies who are not crawling by the time they reach nine months are more likely to suffer from learning and behavioural problems The finding comes from the Millennium Cohort Study, which is looking at 18,818 babies born between 2000 and 2001.

The study by the University of London, Institute of Education, has already shown children from poor families are a year behind their wealthier counterparts when they start school. Now it has revealed for the first time that developmental problems are directly linked to success at school, and can be identified at a young age. Academics performed a series of simple tests on babies aged nine months to check both their gross and fine motor skills. Youngsters who struggled with tasks such as crawling had a significantly increased risk of falling behind at school when they were five

A motor skill is an action that involves muscles in your body. Gross motor skills are larger movements including crawling and running, while fine motor skills are smaller actions such as picking up an object between the thumb and finger. The researchers concluded developmental ‘delays’ affected about 10 per cent of children. Youngsters who struggled with the tasks had a significantly increased risk of falling behind at school when they were five. They were also more likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviour such as refusing to share. Professor Ingrid Schoon, who led the study, said that all children develop at different rates and some who are struggling to sit or crawl may simply catch up.

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