Passive Movement

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 introduced them and mentioned the foot responses (or reflexes) in the Legs & 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.

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 muscles and bones. I’ve included some more information on Primitive Reflexes below the video 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, to flex and extend and shift their weight from left to right, or up to down. You ARE depriving your baby of gaining important movement milestones, reflex integration and development if you do not give them floor/ground time.

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.

The first movement milestone for a baby that most people think about is rolling. If I was to ask you to get down on the floor and roll over (go on try it) you would find a way that matches the history of your own movement journey and ability to access various muscles to create movement. Baby’s DO NOT consciously roll over, they use their whole body, the floor, gravity and a motivator (to reach a toy or watching something move).

To access this movement they first have to ‘find their feet’! Try it yourself – get down on the floor on your back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Then let them drop out to the side and viola – you should be lying on your side. You then see and reach with your right hand for a toy above your head, your legs straighten and bingo – you’re on your tummy.

Given every opportunity and time on the floor your baby should be rolling both ways from around 3 months of age – give or take! Every baby is unique.

You can also help by providing other movement and sensory input and 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.

  • Create safe floor spaces around the home for your baby to play, watch you and develop their body and brains!
  • Watch the video (7:30min)
  • Download/read the information on reflexes and ideas for floor time and share with your partner
  • Reach out if you have any questions about your baby’s movement or ask a question in our Facebook Group

(Disclaimer: I do not profit in any way from promoting the app.)