THE GEOMETRY OF THE RIBCAGE
Zizu demonstrates how to rock’n roll!
Every mother is eager to see her baby roll from her back to her stomach, and then from the stomach to the back again. Somehow this skill seems quite mysterious: baby is flat on her back one moment, then the next she is on her stomach! How did she get there? Did she flip in the air like a pancake? How can I help my baby learn to do this movement of rolling?
One of the most important concepts to understand is that round objects roll, not flat ones. Babies roll because our rib cages are curved, with no sharp angles. Think round as in oval like an egg, rather than round like a ball. The path of the curve is gentle, not steep. Put your hands on your own ribcage by starting with the fingers in front on the sternum (breastbone) and then slide them all the way around the torso until they meet in the back at your spine. Repeat this a few times and feel how gently curved your ribcage is. Next, try this with your baby. Feel how curved her ribcage is, tracing the path from the front of the body to the back where the spine is.
Look at Zizu learning to roll. This stellar caterpillar started receiving lessons at four months. As you look at the sequence, notice how each part of the curved shape must touch the floor for a smooth rolling movement. Many people think that rolling consists of only two points of contact: the front and the back. But, we are not flipping pancakes, we are rolling balls. Notice how rolling consists of many points of contact.
Now that you realize the importance of learning to feel the sides of the body for rolling, you can help baby learn this motor skill by putting her on her side and rocking her just a little tiny bit forward and backward, so she gets comfortable feeling the side of her body against the floor. Then you can begin with her on her back, and roll her onto her side and wait, then bring her back onto her back. Repeat this several times to the right, then repeat several times to the left. Try this with her for a few minutes ever day and she will become more familiar with the curved sides of her ribcage, an important preparation for learning to roll!