Baby Owned Movements
My son crawled at 9 months, sat at nearly 10 months, and walked at 16 months. According to developmental charts, his sitting and walking are considered to be within the later range of ‘normal.’ Charts indicate that babies sit at six months when placed in sitting by an adult. The baby does not own that movement of sitting by being able to move in and out of positions. Most are actually stuck in sitting and struggle to get ‘unstuck.’
When treating babies, my main goal is for them to figure out and plan how to move their own bodies in and out of rolling, sitting, crawling, standing and walking. For example, to stand, the baby must be able to get onto hands and knees and push off the floor into standing. To cruise along the sofa, they need to crawl up to the sofa to pull themselves up and then cruise. I do not put babies in positions that they cannot get into themselves. There are so many benefits to this including:
1) Baby uses their own muscle strength to get into a position versus being forced to hold a position that their body can’t handle which can lead to muscle strain or locking joints for stability.
2) Develops body and spatial awareness. As the child uses their own body (muscle and joint) sense to get in and out of positions, they develop an innate body awareness and sense of space around them. This is much safer as the child can get their own body not only in the position but ‘unstuck’ to get out of it. When placed in a physical position by an adult, they aren’t required to use their own body sense to move.
3) Develops motor planning skills – the baby has to come up with the idea to move, plan how to move their bodies, and then make the move. These skills are so important for motor planning and the beginning to problem-solving, sequencing, and figuring out how to do new things – all skills children need for pretend play, being independent and school projects.
4) Increases balance – by completing movements actively themselves, balance and confidence improves. Active movement develops ones movement sense and stability more than passive sensory input. The movement system has strong links to one’s ability to calm and self-soothe, be alert and focused and much more so it’s a good one to strengthen.
In my professional and personal experience, I find that children who can move in and out of positions on their own versus being placed in positions are more safe and stable, have better posture and are less slumped over, more flexibility and variation in their motor skills, less sensitive or fearful of being moved, and are comfortable getting in and out of different positions.
As a paediatric OT, I will use sensory processing, Neurodevelopmental, myofascial, socio-emotional or play-based strategies to help the child develop the skills they need to be flexible and functional in their motor skills so they own their own movements, and can be more safe and independent in their play.
Here are some other interesting reads on this subject: