Barriers to movement

How we can help babies become more effective movers

For years, Dr Glenn Doman pressed for parents to get their children moving the moment that they are born.  It seems as if this rings true - now more than ever!  With ever increasing safety equipment, convenient gadgets and over protective parenting, we are unknowingly causing our babies to become more passive by the day.

  • Since it is almost impossible for your baby to move while he is on his back (like an overturned turtle), the best thing you can do for your baby is to create a safe floor environment where he can spend as much time on his belly as possible.
  • Remember to offer your baby a variety of positions (back, tummy and side) during awake time to develop and strengthen all his muscles equally. 
  • Also ensure that your baby is doing all of the hard work when he needs to assume a position like sitting.  Even if some gadgets are approved by a professional, it is futile to let a baby sit (or walk) in a gadget where he is supported in such a way that his muscles do not need to work at all. 
  • You can make it more appealing, and educational, by throwing a baby blanket open and using pegs to pin various pictures or toys on the ends. 
  • Rather place your baby in an apple box where he can learn to sit upright by himself without falling over completely than putting him into a contraption that does the work for him. 
  • Let your baby do most of the work when you pick him up or put him down.  Roll him to the side when you change his nappy and slowly pull him up into a sitting position by taking his hands. His tummy muscles will get a great work out if you let him do some of the coming up or going down.
  • Make sure that your baby's cloths are fitting him correctly.  Long sleeves that are hanging over his hands, or pants that are too lose or too tight, are all playing a part in making movement difficult for your little one. Dresses restricts crawling, a too small vest can keep a baby from stretching their backs straight.  
  • The best shoes are no shoes at all.  If you want to invest in your child's posture and health, then invest in more expensive shoes that can bend and give away as your child learns to walk. Read more about choosing the correct shoe for your child.
  • The type of surface on which your child needs to crawl or walk also needs a lot of consideration. If a baby has poor core muscles and finds it difficult to work against gravity when they need to push up in an all-fours position, they will tend to bum-shuffle if the surface is smooth (like tiles or laminated flooring). If a baby is in the early stages of bum-shuffling, he will quickly be discouraged by a sturdy carpet under his bum. 
  • In winter time, babies in long sleeve clothing also find it extremely difficult to move around if the surface doesn’t have enough grip. 
  • Remember that an overweight baby finds it more difficult to move around and work against gravity than his little peers. 

This all seems like logical things to do, but in our kinderkineticist practice we continue to see 4 month old babies with a head lag. 

You might want to read more about how movement can address learning difficulties.