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I LOVE SYMMETRY in babies and toddlers!
In the physical therapy world, symmetry simply means that your child is using both sides of their body equally. Children don’t begin to develop a right/left side dominance until 3-4 years of age, and it is not solidified until 6 years of age. BEFORE THIS, you should see your child using both sides of their body pretty equally!
Scroll down to see why symmetry is so important as your child gains new motor skills.
It helps to build strength equally on both sides of their body, which is necessary for sitting, crawling, and walking.
It helps to develop connections from your brain to your body to tell it to perform a movement. When we are reaching with our left arm, the right side of our brain is helping us do that and vice versa.
The two hemispheres of our brain must communicate with each other for some activities, and using each side of our body helps to improve that communication.
You may notice a preference as early as the newborn stage. Asymmetries can be seen in a variety of ways and may be a red flag for physical development. Some examples of asymmetries are preferring to turn the head one way, only rolling one direction, transitioning in and out of sit over one side but not the other, pulling to stand over one leg and not the other, and cruising only in one direction. If your child is demonstrating asymmetry, this is an indication for a physical therapy evaluation. If you’re not sure if your child is demonstrating symmetry, feel free to message me with your questions!
What if my child is asymmetrical?
Asymmetry in motor skill acquisition is sometimes a red flag for development. Should you panic right now if your child is asymmetrical?
NO! Sometimes asymmetries can be due to the environment. Is your child always in the crib one direction so that they prefer to look away from the wall? When they are cruising, is the tv always on the right, causing them to cruise only to the right so they can watch tv? If you notice that your child is using one side of their body more than the other, please contact your pediatrician or physical therapist for advice and direction.
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