Tag Archives: army crawl

Cute! But Functional? Clothing Baby for Optimal Development

I know. Baby clothes? Can be so cute.

But even clothes-picking needs our awareness! Here are some tips as you purchase or receive baby outfits. Overall, be on the lookout for clothes that allow freedom of movement.

The following can be restrictive. Choose wisely when Baby wears them.

  • Hoods: can get caught or be in the way when Baby is learning to roll. They also create a bump when Baby is lying on the hood (can affect comfort and alignment). When on, hoods generally don’t turn with the head–the head turns inside them (can restrict vision and accurate perception of environment).
  • Long dresses: For the belly-crawlers and hands-and-knees-crawlers, watch for Baby’s knees! Crawling knees can get caught inside a long dress, so Baby ends up trying to crawl inside the dress—one can’t get very far this way!
  • Jeans, thick corduroys, or other “hard” fabrics: can make bending more difficult (at waist, hips, and knees) for crawling, sitting, and kneeling (“sitting on heels” is super important!).
  • One-piece long pants outfits and footie pajamas: can be fine, and super cute, just watch for attempts to crawl inside the outfit.
  • The big toe is a key to belly crawling and ankle integration!

    Footed bottoms: Having feet covered can be like wearing gloves. Go for bare feet as much as possible during playtime, for the sake of nerve-ending development and traction. Also, feet are another way babies touch, measure, and explore their world.

  • Big diapers can hinder healthy development as well. See my previous post for more info.

For playtime, go with clothes Baby can get (a little, or a lot) dirty in! Explore all kinds of surfaces together, for each offers a slightly different and informative experience: carpet, hardwood, linoleum, and out of doors.

And while you’re at it—are your clothes restricting your freedom of movement?

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.)

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.)

Baby Reflexes: Hand-To-Mouth is More Than It Seems!

You may have seen Baby hangin’ out on his belly or back with one hand at his mouth and the other lengthened behind his head. It’s a reflex! Good ole–what we call–“Hand To Mouth.”

Many people are familiar with its mirror: Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR). ATNR is easy to spot in the youngest babies: the notorious turning of head to one side, with the ‘back’ arm bent and the arm Baby is turned toward to lengthened. Legs are involved too, to varying degrees: the same-side leg will be bent or lengthened to match what that-side arm is doing.


Every reflex has an opposite and balancing reflex, and these two are an excellent example. In Hand To Mouth, the arm and leg bend more fully on the side the face is turned to. Hand To Mouth gives Baby access to his hand. This sounds needless of mentioning; but it’s important when you have such a strong reflex that makes your hand go away from your mouth (ATNR)! Just think, if that reflex did not have an opposite! “Mouthing” his hand can bring Baby a sense of calm, give his brain awareness of all his fingers, build hand-eye coordination, and lay a foundation for feeding himself.

Do It Yourself For Understanding

Hand To Mouth:

  • Turn your head to one side.
  • Bring that same-side hand to your mouth and bend that leg up. Keep the other arm and leg lengthened.
  • That’s the position; now do it as a movement.

ATNR:

  • Turn your head to one side.
  • Straighten the arm and leg on the side you’re looking toward; bend the other arm and leg.
  • That’s the position; now do it as a movement. You may feel a ‘magnetic’ pull into the position–that’s your body remembering the reflexive quality of ATNR!

Why This Fancies Noticing

Reflexes are the building blocks of movement. For a typically-progressing baby, reflexes are triggered naturally while responding to his environment, and a lot of them happen while lying on his tummy. What if you could continuously switch back and forth between Hand To Mouth and ATNR in movement?

ATNR + Hand-to-Mouth (+ a few others) = belly crawling! That is, along with belly-down stimulation of the floor to push against, plus motivation to reach mama or a toy!

© 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.