Floor Time! Placing Baby on a variety of surfaces instigates a variety of movement opportunities.
Some of you will put your babies down anywhere; others prefer a designated spot. In the first 4 months or so, having a designated spot can be very useful–a place that is ready for Baby, easily accessible, and comfy for the grown-ups too. During these months, your baby will experiment with non-locomotive movements (ones that don’t travel distance).
From about 5-ish months on, your baby will typically start learning how to shift his weight from one place in his body to another, then begin traveling backward and forward across the floor on his belly.
Have you belly-played lately?
It’s always useful to self-reference so you can gain a greater understanding of your baby’s experience:
- First, pivot in a circle on your tummy by using your arms.
- Then push yourself backward with both arms.
- Then try forward (please push forward with your foot rather than solely 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…friction!
How to Unlock Magical Belly Moments
It’s a little known secret–often when babies discover the kitchen floor or are placed on any ‘slippy’ surface, their movement explodes, to the astonishment of their parents! On his belly, your baby may move in a circle, work his toes into the floor (this is a great sign!), push backwards, and at some point belly crawl forward. All of these are very important, and all can be easier learned at first for some on a slidey floor.
So explore placing your baby directly on a ‘slippy’ surface without a blanket under him. You may find it easiest when he’s wearing a onesie, and maybe pants too. Try this once he has learned to control his head when rolling.
Babies are often ready for this belly-exploring stage once they’ve learned to lift their heads and support themselves on their forearms, around 5 months (4 for a few, 6 for some, 7 and 8 if you haven’t tried it yet!).
The Beauty of Options
At first, many babies choose different movements for different surfaces, typically rolling on the carpet or bed and belly-moving on the hardwood floor. So try placing your baby on a variety of surfaces. In general, a smooth household surface will not hurt Baby’s elbows and knees.
Be prepared for both magic and “developmental frustration” as Baby learns to move through space on his tummy. Being able to move is freeing, but at first he’ll be able to move backward, away from what he was after, before he can go forward!
And while your baby’s at it, you may as well get down there with too–it’s excellent body and brain exercise!
Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor. She also uses Aware Parenting.
© Eliza Parker 2011 & 2016, All Rights Reserved. Links are welcome.