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Early life movement patterning

Photo Credit: Conscious Baby Blog

Early life movement patterning is crucial in the development of proper movement later in life. While it may be obvious for children who have had something happen to them that impairs their movement (i.e. accidentally broke a leg) that prevents them from moving regularly, it can affect how they move later in life.

Therefore, it is not surprising that early in life children need to learn how to move properly. In fact, it is something that they learn 1) by observing us upwardly mobile adults, and 2) via their own experience as their muscles begin to coordinate with their brain how to prop themselves up, crawl, and eventually walk.

While we know that this early movement is important, we live in a society that actually encourages the premature propping and walking of babies. Many parents will prop their children up into sitting positions (without proper support) or will try and get their children to walk. This may not seem to be such a bad thing, but it may force the baby to proceed through various movements before its brain or muscles are ready.

The Conscious Baby blog released this post earlier this month on how a baby learns to get themselves to standing and the importance of them working through the movement. It turns out that babies use what is called “measuring” where they will orient the distance between them and the floor using tactile sensation. During this phase, the muscles are developing strength to stand while the brain is becoming accustomed to what it feels like to have the head so far away from the ground- a daunting feeling for a baby whose balance may not be the best yet.

The blog covers various techniques a baby uses to measure including orientation from face to floor, object targeting, and early movement. As the baby continues to move and practice moving, the brain, particularly the primary motor cortex and cerebellum, are getting better at planning and performing movements.

This is a key period for movement development, so next time you see a baby, watch and learn how these amazing little people are teaching themselves how to orient and move in their little world. Pretty amazing!