BABY BALANCE

7-month-old baby balances on her side while playing with a rattle

3 COMPONENTS OF MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

At 7 months Madison demonstrates excellent balance, coordination, and proprioception.   These are three important components of motor skill development in babies.  In the above photo Madison is playing with the rattle while securely balanced on her right elbow.  Her left big toe is carefully anchored to the floor for a bit of extra stability, but often she lifts that leg up into the air while still balancing and shaking the rattle.  She discovered this position on her own just before turning 6-months-old, and quite awhile after mastering the skill of rolling.

PROPRIOCEPTION FACILITATES LEARNING BALANCE

Proprioception is the ability to feel ones body parts individually, in relationship to one another, and in orientation to the environment.  Balance improves when baby clearly feel all of her body parts in relation to one another.  In the above photo proprioception allows Madison to feel that when she puts her big toe on the floor the rest of her body is more stable.  It also gives her a very clear feeling of her elbow and how her elbow supports her shoulder, ribcage, and entire torso.  Learning to feel and to use the elbow is an important micro-skill embedded in many motor milestones:  lifting the head, rolling, and belly crawling.

COORDINATION OF BABY BALANCE

To find stability in this position, Madison needs to organize the placement of her elbow and big toe as she rolls onto her side.  Once she has achieved this, she is free to play with the rattle.  These activities happen in a quick moment.  In one minute she is on the floor on her belly or her back and then she rolls to her side, props herself up on her elbow, and shakes her rattle.    In just a fraction of a minute she manages to organize all of her body parts so she is stable and can enjoy playing with her toy.  This is coordination–successfully moving and arranging her body parts so she can do what she wants to do or get what she wants to get.  In this photo, her goal is to play with the rattle in a position she enjoys: balancing on her side.  Coordination is an important part of the skill of balance.

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