What’s This Baby Doing? Side to Side in the Belly Crawl

Belly crawling is often referred to as “pre-crawling” (or as the “army crawl” or “commando crawl”). But it is a bona fide stage/wave/pattern of development on its own! I thought it would be fun to look at a photograph and consider what is happening in the very moment of the picture. What can the baby show us in this instant?

We can see that her left arm and leg are both long (“extended’). We can also see that her right arm is bent at the elbow; her right leg is either bent at the knee toward her chest or still straight but closer to her right arm (you can see that her right hip is tilted up in the air a little bit as a result).

From this angle, we can just barely see it’s not just her limbs that are stretched out, it’s the whole left side of her torso (ribs, waist, pelvis). And it’s not just her right arm and leg that are bent(ish), the right side of her torso is also bending sidewards.

She is showing us the “body-half” of belly crawling! That is, the whole left side of her body is doing the same thing (extending/stretching) and the whole right side is doing a different same-thing (bending). This movement is also called “homolateral,” meaning “same side.”

Babies start out lying down and must somehow figure out how to move. In order to move, we all must shift our weight in some way. What is she doing with her weight? We can see that more of her weight is shifted onto her left side. See how she’s a little bit rolled onto her left? As this side becomes “stable,” her right side becomes “mobile.” That is, having her weight on her left side frees up her right side to move.

Where could she go from here if we could press a ‘play’ button? From this position, she has the freedom to move backward, forward, or stay where she is. She may push into her bent right leg to move forward, in which case her stable and mobile sides will switch. Or she may choose to push into her right forearm and move backwards. Or she may stay right where she is, supporting herself on her left side and playing with a toy with her right hand. Options!

© Eliza Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)

Much of my work comes from Infant Developmental Movement Education®, part of the Body-Mind Centering® Approach to Somatic Education, and Dr. Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting. I am a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.

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