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June 03, 2022

Natural Gross Motor Development: We Have Motion

Babies are born moving, and they are moving well before that. These early movements are a lot more subtle than the movement that is to come. First moving their eyes and head, then arms and legs. The movement is generally fairly uncoordinated, and there's not much (outward) purpose for that movement. Overtime, that movement becomes more coordinated and eventually that movement leads to motion. 

I can't believe it, but Penelope is already here! This week she started scooting backwards on her back like a little inchworm. She has figured out how to use her feet to push herself slowly backwards. It's an incredible privilege to watch her unfold right in front of me. One minute she's in the middle of a blanket and then she's on one side, and then finally off of it entirely. She has also started to pivot her body a bit side to side, but mostly it's just that backwards movement. 

Supporting this movement is fairly simple at this point. We just continue to give her what we have given her from birth - space and time to move freely. We might start using slightly bigger blankets, and do a more complete sweep of the room to make sure no little LEGO or other big kid toys have made their way to her area. But, other than that, we just get to watch, offer a few materials around her space and let her be. 

Early Motion from Babies

From a natural gross motor perspective, this is completely what I would expect. From her back to figure out how to get some motion and then to eventually roll over. Now, this motion might look different depending on the child. In her book, Unfolding of Infants' Natural Gross Motor Development (p 7-9), Dr. Emmi Pikler observed many different ways that babies that this motion might occur. These included: 

  • Inchworm - what Penelope is doing by pushing backward
  • Snake Like - scooting their trunk around without using hands or feet 
  • Around an Axis - pivoting around in a circle using feet 

No matter which way your baby is preferring to move, respect it, honor it, and trust it. Give them space, and watch that early motion turn to more and more coordinated and intentional motion. The world is opening up! 

Supporting early motion with natural gross motor development principles with our Montessori baby.

This post is week 17 of my Montessori baby series focusing on Penelope. 

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