WHAT IS SKILLED MOVEMENT FOR BABIES?
Let’s begin by asking “What is Skilled Movement for Adults?” A skilled tennis player has strength, excellent coordination, and agility. These skills begin in infancy where we develop our movement patterns in the brain and nervous system. We all know that abilities are part nature (genetics) and part nurture (experiences). Skilled movement lessons work with the latter.
BABY’S FIRST YEAR
Motor skill development is one of the many frontiers of infant development. Others include eating, sleeping, and speech development. Babies receive coaching with their speech development by imitating the sounds mom makes such as “BA, BA, BA,” which soon becomes “BALL.” In each of these three areas, parents guide baby through her development step by step.
With motor skill development, it is not as well known how to coach the skills along the way. For years, parents have seen only “delayed” or “disabled” babies receive movement lessons, so they often are not as aware of the value for a healthy baby. They may see it as “therapy” for “a problem” rather than coaching for confidence and skill development. Also, many people think: “baby will learn to crawl when she is ready.” Yet, many babies never crawl. Some crawl after much frustration. Others crawl without the most efficient coordination. This revolutionary new method, grounded in neuroscience and infant development research, provides a framework for baby to thrive. Our goal for baby is crawling with strength, coordination, and joy.
WHAT ARE SKILLED MOVEMENT LESSONS?
In a Stellar Caterpillar lesson, parents learn how to touch baby in a way that develops baby’s awareness of her body parts and prepares her to learn movement patterns. Parents learn how to observe the mini-milestones that make up the large motor milestones so they can show baby the physical clue they need to get the most benefit from the skill they are learning. For example, a baby in tummy time that struggles to lift her head may need a gentle push down on her pelvis to make it easier to lift the head. It’s simple, but it works. After one or two tries baby learns to keep the pelvis down and she lifts her head. Now she will enjoy tummy time!
TOP 3 BENEFITS OF SKILLED MOVEMENT LESSONS
1. Physical mastery through strong bones and muscles, excellent posture, good balance, and stability.
2. Independence. A sign of a healthy and happy baby is one that can move in and out of positions, travel across the room, and get her hands on objects. She discovers how to get into sitting and then to get out of it so she can crawl across the room. This is very important since some babies put in the sitting position are “stuck” there (They did not get into it on their own so they can not get out of it either).
3. A strong self-image. “I can do that” seems to be her attitude as she approaches each milestone. Baby enters toddlerhood socially confident and eager to try new activities.
MOTOR SKILL COACHING—WHEN DO I START?
The answer is: the sooner the better. Lessons for newborns also help with colic, sleep, digestion, and crying. The hands-on skills parents learn cultivate a clear image of the body in baby’s brain. This lays the groundwork for baby to learn how to move her body. Parents learn how to choose toys that invite developmental play. Discussions include which pieces of baby gear to avoid and which ones to buy. For a limited time, the popular virtual lessons are available at a special introductory rate. Visit stellarcaterpillar.com.
This guest post was contributed by Donna Eshelman. Donna Eshelman, M.A., G.C.F.P. is a Movement Specialist and founder of Stellar Caterpillar. A respected practitioner, educator and speaker, she is a forerunner in the dynamic and joyful world of skilled movement as it applies to health, wellness and our connection to the world around us.