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.)