Category Archives: Milestones

How Independent Sitting Happens

True self-discovered, un-propped, independent sitting comes later than many people think–later than common recommendations based on Baby being propped. Here’s how it can happen in a typical progression. Time spent in each element can vary greatly.

PART 1 (Hey, we gotta get to know gravity first . . . stay with me!)

CuddleNewborn-CROPBorn.

Rest into Loved-One’s arms, into gravity, bonding with my support, loved.

Squirmy-wormy-wriggly

Rest.

Turn my head. Fall into gravity. Roll roll roll rollllllll….

On tummy: push happens.
HlogPushUppers 2mo CROP SMPush?
Hey! Push! pushing into the earth, lifting head, supporting on forearms
Rolllllll…

Pushing up up up!
Kicking feet
Rest.

Push push push slide.
Slide in a circle, wheee!, pivot on belly
Hlat pivot1

Pushing up up UP! Up high on handsHlog uppers high

Push push push sliiiide. Slide—Hlog uppers toy
BACKWARDS.
!!
??

Push. Slide BACKWARDS. Darn it! I want that!
Backwards backwards
Arghhhh!

Hlat toe5 CROP LTN

Toes chit-chat with the floor. BIG TOE plays with the floor, has conversations.

My weight shifts over to one side, frees one of my arms to play.
Yeah! Hangin’ out with one knee bent out to the side. Playing. Curious.

Hlat6 play CROP-SMALLER

Hlat uppers

Push…

Backwards, still.

Push backwards + one knee pops out to the side + big toe chit-chats with the floor + I want that toy = forward.
FORWARD! Got it!

Toy (or Mama, or Mama’s lunch) and one arm free with a toe-push forward, coordinating hand with eye.Hlat fwd2 CROP

PART 2 (We’re getting there…)

Pushing pushing, all around, in circles, backward, forward.
Body weight shifts onto one side, then the other.
Slip ‘n Slide!

Pushing, squishing into myself and unfolding out.
Push, weight-shift, on my side-ish, twist, and upward.

Twist twd sit

elbow-hip twd sit

! Push and upward on my side!
On my side, on my side…
Again. Tummy, then side, then up on elbow and hip.

Again. Tummy, then side, then up on hands and hip.
Look how high I am!

Coming to sit 10mo CR SM

Measuring, sensing, reading my distance from the floor. Back and forth. I know where I am. And how I got here.

Sidesit one hand

Down. Up. Down. Up. Down into the floor. Up out of the floor. Balancing, playing, whoops!—down.

Push. On side, up on hand, on hip, hands free.
Hands free! Hahahaaa!!! I’m all the way up here with both hands free!

full sit

Oh, everyone says I’m “sitting.”

PART 3 So many options! From sitting, Baby can go down to his tummy or reach onto his hands and knees.HlogReachUppers2 CROP SM

Some babies play in a “weeble” motion.

Down the way I came. Up the way I came. Down again. Or, up one side and down the other. Down one side and up the other.

Weeble 9mo CR

Sit, whee go off to the side, put weight on both hands, sit on the other side, whee, spinning in a weeble circle!

And that, my friends, is the dance of independent sitting. The typical expectation is to prop-sit babies; but I support you in not propping Baby in sitting, but rather witnessing with joy as she discovers it on her own!

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Aware Parenting Instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, and Feldenkrais® Practitioner.

© Eliza Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)

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The Importance of Measuring (or, The Importance of Not Propping in Sitting, Standing, and Walking)

It’s something we do automatically. It’s how we know where the floor is; or gauge how much to move our legs when going up and down stairs. If we didn’t have a chance as infants, or we have other challenges with balance, it’s part of why we feel clumsy or uncertain about our movements.

This mysterious activity? Measuring. Babies are masters!

We can see this baby feeling what she's doing. She's starting to push up to sitting. In the process, she's "measuring," or sensing where she is in space and in relation to the ground.

We can see this baby feeling what she’s doing. She’s starting to push up to sitting. In the process, she’s “measuring,” or sensing where she is in space and in relation to the ground.

When babies learn to move, they begin lying on the floor. Over time, development brings them up off the floor, from lifting head and chest to crawling to walking. Pushing off the earth comes before, and leads into, being able to reach into space. That is, measuring comes before, and leads into, freedom of movement and innate trust in our own movement abilities.

So what is measuring?

This brilliant design of the human nervous system gives infants a chance to “measure”—to experience their distance from the floor. It allows their brains to read gravity and know where they are in space.

Imagine this. You (your adult self) have been picked up by someone strong and set on your feet on a 5-inch-wide wall several feet above the ground. (And you happen not to be a gymnast or tight-rope walker.) What do you do? How do you feel? What happens to your breathing? Is this familiar? What’s your sense of heights and distance from the ground? Did you want to be put up here? Would you have been able to get here on your own? How will you get down? Do you know yourself and your abilities right this moment?

Imagine this. Perhaps you’re hiking and you have come upon this stone wall. You’re curious. You touch it, lean on it, and want to get on top of it to see the view or to get to the other side. You have desire, intention, motivation. You make attempts at climbing it, try a few things, discover what works, and make it to the top. How do you feel? What are you thinking about, or not? What’s your sense of heights and distance from the ground? How well do you know yourself and your abilities right this moment?

In the second scenario, you measured. YOU experienced the journey from the ground to the top of the wall. You know where you are in space. You got there yourself, and you’re likely to be able to get yourself off of it.

In the first scenario, you had no opportunity to measure. You were dependent on someone else to get you up there, and because you didn’t experience how to get up, you may also be dependent on someone else to get you down. You weren’t given a chance to know your own ability; rather, someone more powerful has done something to you. While it may be thrilling, you may also be apprehensive.

Watching your amazing baby: How do babies measure?

Watch for:

  • The nose-bob or nose-to-mouth. At the breast or on her tummy, you may see Baby bobbing her nose, then latching on with her mouth. If she’s holding something, you may see her bring it to her nose, then slide it down to her mouth. This is one form of measuring or orienting—setting herself up to know where something is and where she is and how to make the two meet.
  • From tummy, lifting head and pushing up on hands. Get on the floor with Baby and try it yourself too! Lying on the floor > pushing up > down to the floor > pushing up. Clock some time doing that, and you understand how to “be” at that distance off the floor. You know where you are in space.
  • Baby spots a toy and either pushes backwards on belly or belly-crawls forward. She has spotted what she wants and sets up her movement to attempt to get it. She gets feedback from the outcome—did her actions get her what she wanted? Please don’t move the toy, as she won’t get correct feedback about measuring what she had set herself up to do.

    Spotting what he wants, figuring out how to get it, trying it out, discovering the outcome: measuring.

    Spotting what he wants, figuring out how to get it, trying it out, discovering the outcome: measuring.

  • From sidelying, watch Baby push with her hands into sitting. Try this one too. Here I am lying on the floor; and feeling each moment of the journey up to sitting; back down, back up; measure, measure; ah, now my proprioceptive system (inner ear) knows where I am in space, and I know how to get back down.
  • Pulling up to standing—it’s all about measuring! Up, down, up, down. Reading distances, feeling gravity, knowing her own ability. “Down” may be falling or plopping at first, but she’s not afraid because she got herself up there. Her brain is reading this distance and what she needs to do to move within it.

The truth about propping

When we prop babies in sitting, standing, and walking before they are able to get into it and out of it by themselves, they don’t get this experience of knowing themselves and measuring. They become dependent on us to get them up higher and to get them down again. We put them into the situation of the first scenario above.

In a society so focused on achievement, allowing Baby her full time and space necessary to discover movement on her own takes trust! But we are designed to be able to do the next thing when we are ready.

Sometimes there are stressors that prevent babies from finding milestones. But in general, each milestone will happen by itself once all (ALL) previous and necessary preparations are in place.

It’s a common myth that we need to teach sitting, standing, and walking. Baby will benefit the most from finding these on her own. It’s also a myth that babies learn it by practicing it. She’ll learn because she did all the preparations and ends up in the new milestone.

Remember that Baby is a master at measuring and knowing her own abilities, and you can point this out to all the people who come along and say “your baby isn’t sitting yet?????”!

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor. She also uses Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting.

© Eliza Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)

The 14 (at least) Milestones Between Crawling and Walking

Did you know there are several fun “milestones” between hands-and-knees crawling and walking? Really, development is an unending string of new reflex after new reflex, but popular perspectives tend to break it up into the major highlights. But then we loose the whole picture. Let’s put part of that picture back together again!

Babies who are not walked (and some that are) will typically discover most of the following movements. It’s both a progression–not necessarily in this exact order–and overlapping waves.

  • Starting with crawling on hands and knees…

Kneel-sitting (sitting back on both forelegs)

Kneel-standing (“standing” on both knees)

  • “Pulling up” by stepping on one foot
  • “Pulling up” by pulling with both arms
  • “Pulling up” by pushing with both legs

 

 

 

Bear-standing and bear-walking (on hands and feet)

  • Cruising with two hands, side-stepping
  • Opening outward  with one hand/foot out while holding on with one hand

Stepping forward and backward while holding on with 2 hands

Cruising with one hand, forward-stepping

 

 


  • Letting go to stand hands-free
  • Squatting while holding on

 

 

  • Standing from squatting, and squatting from standing, hands-free
  • Toddling (like a penguin) while holding something in both hands
  • Walking cross-laterally (forward-stepping)
  • Running. Flying?

That’s a lot happening between crawling and walking that is not often talked about! All of these in-between movements prepare the lower back, hip joints, ankles, foot arches, and core support for being upright on two feet. They also support necessary brain connections and the ability to integrate the new sensory information and stimulation they’ll be taking in.

This is part of why babies will walk best if they are not “walked” by bigger people. Their bodies are attempting to put all of these important pieces into place, so walking them can interfere with this process and cause compensations that make the natural developing reflexes/movements more difficult or even inaccessible.

Once a baby has explored all or most of the above preparations, and when he is allowed to do so in his own timing, you will see a very confident little walker emerge with great balance and poise!

If you are concerned about developmental delays, professional support may be needed. Please follow your gut feelings if you have a concern and speak with someone who is familiar with the details of first-year development.

© Elizabeth Parker 2012, 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.

Floor Time Surfaces–Soft Ones & Smooth Ones

Floor Time! Placing Baby on a variety of surfaces offers a variety of movement opportunities.

Some families I meet will put their babies down anywhere; others prefer the designated spot only. In the first 4 or so months, having a designated spot is super useful–a place that is ready for Baby, comfy for her grown-ups, and easily accessible. During these months, Baby is experimenting with non-locomotive movements. From about 5-ish months on, Baby will typically start learning how to shift her weight and then begin traveling across the floor via belly crawling.

Before we go any further, have you belly crawled lately?

Try it! First push yourself backward with both arms. Then go forward (just please push forward with your foot rather than pulling with your arms). What surface are you doing this on? Try it on a wood or linoleum floor; and try it on carpet, or even on a blanket.

Ah, yes… friction! Some families find that once they allow Baby access to the kitchen floor, her movement explodes! Discovery time! She may spin, work her toes into the floor (this is a good sign), push backwards, and at some point belly crawl forward (a massively important movement pattern!). All of this can be easier learned at first on a slidey floor.

Some babies I’ve known chose different movements for different surfaces: for example, rolling for the bed and belly crawling for the hardwood floor. So try placing Baby on different surfaces from around 5 months on. Always use your best judgment, but in general, a smooth household surface will not hurt Baby’s elbows and knees. If Baby is learning to roll from front to back via “falling” and is bumping her head–also use your judgment (for small falls, sometimes it’s our reaction that scares them rather than that they got hurt or knew it was supposed to hurt).

Be prepared for both magic and developmental frustration as Baby learns to move through space on her tummy! For nifty tips on how to move Baby onto the floor and make Tummy Time a place of fun and ease, see this article.

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor. She also uses Aware Parenting.

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

Video! Educational Play, Tummy Time Options, and Comfort Moving While Holding Baby

Video time! Here is a snippet of what we “Infant Developmental Movement Educators” do. In this clip, Sandra Jamrog (IDME and Childbirth Educator) shows:

  • Playing with an older baby who has not yet rolled. We interact not by using force, but through ‘educational play’ to help the baby find new or missing movements for himself. Watch at about 1:12 how the baby engages his attention and reaches, and Sandy follows his impulse. This helps his nervous system learn unconsciously and open up reflexes/movements that were previously not available or not used.
  • Ways to move while holding Baby that both help the caregiver be comfortable and support Baby’s movement. …like getting down to and up from the floor.
  • Creative options for Tummy Time; and fun rolling with Baby

Video by Saliq Francis Savage.

© Elizabeth 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.

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.

Cloth AND Disposable! How Diapers Can Affect Your Baby’s Development

Diapers are a part of everyday life with a baby. Cloth and disposable each offer advantages and disadvantages. For optimal motor development, there are some Diapers three-babys-in-diapersimportant considerations that tend to affect cloth-wearers more, but can also affect disposable-wearers. Note, this article address typical development and babies not experiencing hip dysplasia.

The Effects of Big Diapers

When you’re shopping for cloth or disposable options, take into account the size of the diaper when worn. Some diapers can be big, spreading Baby’s legs wide and limiting movement in the lower spine.

For healthy movement development, Baby needs to be able to:

BB2 blue

Being able to curl into a ball shape (“flexion”) is very important for development of movement, muscle tone, coordination, and nervous system regulation

  • Curl into a C-shape, called “flexion” (important for milestone development, digestion, and the nervous system’s ability to balance stimulation with recuperation)
  • Bring each leg into alignment with her hip joints and spine in belly crawling so that the push of her foot will travel well through her body to carry her forward
  • Bring her knees under her hip joints in hands-and-knees crawling, and into optimal alignment for kneeling and walking.

The relationship of the legs, hip joints, pelvis, and spine supports a healthy back for life. Diaper-induced wideness can skew alignment, cause compensations, and lead to W-sitting (See “W-Sitting Revisited” by pediatric physical therapists).

DIY

Don’t listen to me—listen to your body! For fun, get down on the floor and experiment so you know for yourself.

  1. Crawl on your hands and knees comfortably. Notice where your knees land and how much distance is between them.
  2. Then spread your knees wider, as if you were wearing a diaper that didn’t allow your knees to come close together, and crawl like so.
  3. Experiment with the placement of your knees and feel the difference it makes in your lower back, side muscles, jaw, mindstate, and other parts of yourself.

Watch Your Baby Crawl

The next time you see your baby crawl, notice where her knees land. Optimally, the knees will come through under the hip joints. Diapers can make a baby’s knees spread wider than the hip joints while crawling, which can have an unhappy affect on the lower back, whether it shows up now or in 40 years. Wide knees are also less stable in movement because they don’t allow force to travel efficiently in the most direct route through the bones and joints. Wide diapers and widespread knees can also encourage W-sitting. Even if your baby is not yet crawling, spend some time watching how your baby’s legs relate to each other.

What to Look For in Diapers

This doesn’t mean ditch diapers altogether! It’s about making informed choices.

  • Lie your baby on her back. Without a diaper on, gently bend her knees and bring them toward each other. (Do not do this with a newborn or if there’s concern about hip dysplasia) How close together do her knees move easily? Then put a diaper on and do the same thing to compare. Does the diaper allow movement of the knees toward each other? How much of a difference is it? The intention here is not to force the knees together, but to gently feel your baby’s natural range of motion without a diaper, and then to find out if the diaper restricts access to her natural movement.
  • Look for companies that offer a variety of sizes and stick to the smallest possible size needed.
  • No matter which diapers you choose, give your baby diaper-free time, wearing only swimming/training pants if desired.

Knees-Together Time

Kneeling (kneel-sitting back on the heels and kneel-standing on the knees) offers many wonderful benefits! Kneeling comes in once babies begin to crawl on hands and knees, sit back from crawling, and pull to standing. For optimal movement development, babies need access to knees-together time in these positions. Kneeling–with the forelegs under the body (not W-sitting)–re-engages midline, provides an efficient transition into and out of hands-and-knees crawling, and supports coordination of the legs and torso. It even helps establish healthy support in the lower back. If you notice Baby’s legs spreading wide while crawling or W-sitting, respectfully and gently scoot her knees in toward each other underneath her so that she can kneel-sit. Kneel-sitting generally provides healthier alignment, as well as more options and freedom of movement than W-sitting.

Kneel-sitting is a fantastic, fantastic, fantastic thing for babies to do!

From kneel-sitting, Baby can move in any direction . . . including up to kneel-standing and eventually into walking.

But efore disposables all babies were in cloth, and they ended up just fine didn’t they?

I can’t speak to what cloth diapers were like in history; but I can speak for the babies whom this issue affects. “Fine” is relative. Again, this is about looking at the size and effects of any diaper, but especially cloth because it has more potential to be bulky. Many physical challenges in adulthood stem from a variety of issues in infancy. In the case of big diapers, the diapers direct the movement, rather than the baby’s natural reflexes—and this can create compensation patterns. These compensations can easily go unnoticed in a “healthy,” active child, but they linger in the body and can become problematic later in life (including back, hip, and knee challenges).

Think Functionally and Shop with Awareness

Some babies may not be affected by their diapers. For some babies, this is a question of optimal development vs he’ll-be-okay development. For others still, it can turn a “normal” situation into an unnecessary difficulty that can affect not only movement, but also learning and self confidence.

Whether there are concerns or none,  whether cloth or disposable, every baby benefits from diaper-free time! Optimal joint development… Freedom of movement… Having the most potential available within ourselves to rely on in everyday life… Why not make the effort to build the best foundation possible in the first year?

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Aware Parenting Instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, and is trained as a Feldenkrais® Practitioner.

© Eliza Parker 2014, All Rights Reserved