SUCKING: THE COORDINATION OF THE SPHINCTER MUSCLES

THE FIRST DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONE:  SUCKING

Baby Madison sucking her fingers to comfort herself.

Sphincters are ring-shaped muscles.  We have many ring muscles in our body:  eyes, ears, nose, mouth, anus, and urinary tract, among others.    These muscles contract and release and work in a coordinated manner. When one is contracted the others contract simultaneously and when one relaxes, the others relax. There is no better example of this principle than a suckling infant.  Paula Garbourg, author of Self-Healing:  The Secret of the Ring Muscles, describes baby’s every sucking action:

“The mouth contracts.
The eyelids contract.
The hands contract into fists.
The feet contract.
The digestive tract works.
The anus contracts in the same rhythm as the mouth.
The urinary tract also contracts at the same rate.
Contracting and relaxing–the basic movement of life.”

Sucking – the first motor milestone of life – is motivated by survival. Babies get nourishment from sucking. Yet it also establishes the rhythm for the rest of our movement through life.  Muscles contract and release.  Eyes open and close to see, the nose opens and closes to smell, the ears to hear, the mouth to eat, etc.  We relate to the world through these openings and closings.  The hand opens and closes to grab something and the feet contract and release with every step we take.  Also, baby feels soothed through his entire body by the ebb and flow of this action when sucking on a pacifier.

Observe your baby sucking and the response of the muscles through the entire body. Can you see them working?  Notice the rhythmic quality of the movement. This rhythm is the basic rhythm of life….contract and release, open and close.

One Response to SUCKING: THE COORDINATION OF THE SPHINCTER MUSCLES

  1. Wonderful blog! I don’t believe I’ve seen all the angles of this subject the way you’ve pointed them out. I think you ought to teach a class about babies and motor skill development!

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