Born to Move
Babies are born to move. Motor development is the central focus of the first year. Babies need a broad range of multisensory and locomotor activities to ensure optimal developmental progress, stimulate brain development and strengthen muscles. The benefits of movement to an infant begin at a much earlier age than many parents realize – as early as two months. You can start by moving their arms and legs rhythmically.
It is miraculous to watch a baby learn to roll over, push up, sit, creep, crawl and walk. Unfortunately, many babies that I see miss these important learning opportunities. They spend too much time propped up in a stationary position in infant seats, swings and saucers that prevent them from moving and exploring. They are on their backs, but need to spend time on their tummies – called tummy time – to prepare to crawl. If you wait until the baby is four or five months before beginning tummy time, many babies won’t like being on their tummies, because they have become accustomed to being on their backs.
Many pediatricians do not stress the importance of crawling, which is a critical step! The cross-limb movements of crawling strengthen neurological pathways that have been shown to reduce the risk of future learning disabilities. I tell parents to put their babies on the floor and allow them to explore to gain movement mastery. Watching TV does not build the child’s sense of self which is only gained when he moves himself out into the world to discover toys, other people, animals, and nature. Put your baby on the floor and let him move!