In a previous post, we toured the first year of movement development. But there’s more! And it matters in the realms of not only physical health, but emotional too.

From the instant of birth, babies begin exploring their inescapable relationship with gravity …that is, with earth and “space” …that is, ‘Baby Trek’!

Earth and Space: What’s the Big Deal?

Give it a go. Do something–move around, hop out of your chair and do a jig, or bend down and pick up that teething ring the dog is eyeing, or just lie down…

If you consider Earth your partner, what can you do with Earth? Perhaps rest. Or push against it to get up. Stand on it…

If you consider the space around you as your partner, what can you do? If you had no Earth to push off of, how would you get from point A to point B? How would you reach your favorite mug on the top shelf? Or dive for that vase before it falls off the table? Could we finally fly solely by reaching with our hands or even our heads?

Okay, back to babies. Babies roll, sit, crawl, stand, and walk. Right–but really, babies push (into/against the Earth) and reach (into space), in various combinations.

These two actions/attitudes are our natural responses to living on our planet. All of the gross motor milestones develop from the nuances of pushing and reaching. (Well, and the activation of reflexes, but that’s another post…)

Pushing: Selfness

Some of the movement milestones are “push patterns,” meaning they require pushing against the floor. They’re really first about resting. Once we can rest and release our body weight into gravity, then we discover that we can push into the earth.

Aaaah-HA! With this discovery, Baby can do all sorts of things!

  • A push into his hands raises his head and chest.
  • A push backwards from his arms sends his whole body backwards, or he can pivot in a circle.
  • A push of one leg takes him forward on his belly.
  • If he’s sitting on his forelegs in a kneel-sitting, a push can take him up higher and eventually to his feet.

A push into his hands raises his head and chest

The movements in this category establish Baby’s personal space, or “kinesphere.” They provide feedback internally, from the earth back into his body. He gets a ‘sense’ of himself.

He gets to know gravity and how to maneuver in it. He builds confidence and safety within his own body and being.

Reaching: “Space—the Final Frontier”

“These are the voyages of [Baby Jane]. [Her first-year] mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life…”

With the expertise built from establishing her ‘self’ in relationship with the Earth, she can now “boldly go where no one has gone before!” Well, plenty of others have gone there before, but she hasn’t…

Once she knows herself and her kinesphere, she can move out of it. These movement milestons involve reaching:

  • with both hands from sitting into crawling
  • alternating with one hand and then the other when she crawls on hands and knees.
  • She can reach for something beyond herself and experience the satisfaction of obtaining it by mobilizing herself to go it or bringing it to herself.

A reach takes him forward from sitting to crawling

She can get to know the world around her on her own initiative. She can explore what–to her–are still strange new experiences. She can voyage.

Is it Sci-Fi?

There you have it, I’ve gone sci-fi. Or rather, ‘psy-phy’–the psychological-physical correlations of pushing and reaching, the elements underlying the milestones.

Physically in the body, the push patterns move Baby because one body segment pushes into the next segment ahead of it. In the reach patterns, one segment/limb essentially “pulls” the rest behind it. Both of these are important foundations! Both are necessary aspects of our full-blown movement, emotional expression, learning, and even communication.

© Elizabeth Parker 2011 & 2020, All Rights Reserved. Links welcome.