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Finding Our Feet

Author // Ellynne Skove, M.A., LCAT, BC-DMT

Developing Necessary Tone in the Body and Finding the Way to Being Vertical

Developmental movement works on the body and the brain. The movement of infants is driven by their senses and their drive to thrive. As a baby grows, these forces, along with innate curiosity and will, set the movement process in motion. With this will come communication and choice. Essentially, children who are supported during their progression through the stages of movement build a strong foundation for making choices.

In our classes we use songs, finger plays, and movements done by adults holding the baby. This gives babies a chance to work through the stages on their developmental path. One important benefit of this approach is that we help with developing the curves of the spine—the architecture of the aligned spine that enables us to stand and relate in the human world.

Our classes support the natural patterns of development by exercising its basic elements: flexing, extending, pushing, pulling, reaching, etc. Using breath work, tummy time, rolling, reaching for toys and people, pushing up, sitting up and down and belly crawling, GoGo Babies provides nourishing, developmentally appropriate play that supports bonding, early cognition, emotional regulation and coordination.



© EMILY MACKENZIE


Babies initially elevate their lower legs and feet when in prone tummy time. It takes a strong effort to find the feet and toes engaging in a push pattern when making contact with the floor. When this happens, the spine elongates out of the fetal “C” curve shape and works to develop the natural form of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical curves. This is the internal architecture necessary to find aligned and strong vertical positions, such as sitting unassisted and standing.




© EMILY MACKENZIE


Placing a breastfeeding pillow or a rolled-up towel or blanket under your baby’s chest can help her find her feet and engage with the floor to add to the necessary push/reach/pull patterns needed to develop the spinal form. Such a prop makes tummy time more pleasurable, and makes it less difficult to lift her heavy head, which is bigger than her bottom at this stage. It also helps in the reach from the chest and push from the arms and feet. Note that the eyes reach, helping the head to lift as well.




© EMILY MACKENZIE


This baby is in the early stage of finding the push through the toes. The baby shows a long and strong push, pull and reach. The whole body is fired up from toes to head, and head to toes! This helps develop muscle tone and strength in the legs all the way through the trunk, or core, of the body.





© EMILY MACKENZIE


This baby is engaged in creeping, so he is using his arms to pull as well. This movement helps the joints of his lower body line up and bring his knees in line with his hips. It’s like the song: “The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone, and the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone!” And so on, up the body. The bones connecting the joints are like the tracks and train stations necessary for building the ability to travel and move. The engine is the baby’s drive to explore, and its curiosity of the world outside the womb.




© GLENDA POWERS


Bear walking on hands and feet builds more strength, tone and alignment; it helps a baby move into pushing her lower body so strongly that she stands up. Many people refer to this as “pulling up,” but actually it is a huge push, defying gravity and working toward joining the bigger humans who are vertical, two-legged mammals!





© EMILY MACKENZIE


When a baby is placed involuntarily in a seated position before she is able to sit up on her own, the body is impeded from developing necessary tone for creeping and crawling. Many babies will develop the less-thanoptimal movement pattern of bottom scooting instead of crawling to try to get to where they want to go. This is not good for the joints or development of lower body and torso tone. It also hampers the upper tone and chest strength related to speech and language development. A baby that can sit on her own will look like an erect and present little Buddha!




© ANGELA JIMINEZ


Babies have the ability to arrive in a vertical position on their own if we let them have floor time to explore and develop their developmental movement patterns. Skipping a part of the pattern is not helpful, as each pattern connects to brain and social-emotional developments, as well as speech and language and developing stereoscopic vision. Encouraging and being present with your baby helps him develop a strong sense of body- and self-awareness and a deep trust and attachment with his parents and caregivers.





Pathways Issue 48 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #48.

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