Your baby’s first movements are involuntary, in response to the world around them and how they are touched or moved. Many of these movements are referred to as primitive reflexes. We mentioned the foot responses (or reflexes) in the Legs and Feet module.
These primitive reflexes are the brains way to train the body. Quite clever really. Over time the involuntary reflexes slowly integrate and disappear, some become postural reflexes. Some stay asleep waiting to kick into action should they be needed.
So while you watch your baby move and wiggle on the floor and ground there are many things happening inside their body like brain development, building nerve pathways and growing bones. I’ve included some more information on Reflexes below which shows some of the movements and positions that you may observe in your baby.
The best thing you can do for your baby is provide a safe space flat on the floor or ground for them to learn to move from. That’s right you don’t need anything except a hard flat surface. Of course you can put a blanket or mat down but they need to feel their body and eventually be able to push off and shift their weight from left to right, or up to down. Of course you can’t just put your baby down and leave them to get on with it. All babies flourish and thrive with interaction (that’s you and other family members) and appropriate stimulation of each sense: touch, sight, sound, smell.
Stuck for ideas on what to do and how to interact with your baby? I came across this wonderful app for parents – Oliiki: The Specialist Baby Development App for Parents in the first 1000 Days. I personally know the creator of it and I like that it is research based and focused on helping you and developing your baby’s brain. (Disclaimer: I do not profit from promoting it.)
You can also help by providing other movement and sensory input by incorporating some passive (when you move them) movements during their day. This can happen during their massage or when you’re playing and spending time with them. It’s another great way to connect and bond with your baby, with the added bonus of learning more about them, how they move and growing their brain.