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For baby it is quite a feat of strength and alignment to achieve the hands and knees crawling position.  For 7 month old Madison that achievement happened today!  We have watched Madison learn to kick her legs, lift her head in tummy time, and belly crawl.  Each of these Stellar Caterpillar Top 10 Movement Skills have strengthened the muscles of her back, legs, neck, and arms.  After strengthening these major muscles groups, she has learned to lift her pelvis high up into the air so she can pull her knees underneath her hip joints.


In her lesson today, we showed Madison how to put her knees more directly under her hip joints so that she would feel more stable.  At the beginning of the lesson she could lift her pelvis up a bit and then pull her knees up, but they were too far to the outside of her hip joints.  She would fall back down to her belly!   Crawling with the knees wider than the hips is not a stable position.  We showed her how to place her knees in alignment under her hip joints so she could feel stable enough to continue moving.  By the end of the lesson she had figured out how to stay on her hands and knees and crawl just a little bit forward.

It is not only strength in the arms and legs that is necessary to achieve the hands and knees crawling position, but the optimal alignment of the knees under the hip joints and the connection of the heels of her palms into the floor to best support her weight.  Only when baby feels stable in the hands and knees position will she feel confident to move one arm or knee forward.  After all, three points on the floor is less stable than four.  When one point is in motion the others must provide stability.



The posture of sitting requires baby to use the lower body as a base of support.  The lower body includes the heavy bones of the pelvis and the legs, as well as the mobile joints of the knees, hips, and ankles. The places where each leg meets the pelvis is called a “hip joint.”  The hip is one of the joints in the body that is capable of the greatest range of motion.  It is classified as a “ball and socket” joint because the thigh bone ends in a rounded shape resembling a “ball” and sits in a shallow bowl on the pelvis called  a “socket.”  This design allows a great deal of movement.  Just think about the ballerina on stage moving her leg very high in the air in front of her, to the side, and behind her.  This is possible due to the design of the hip joint.  While sitting, baby begins to move her legs in various positions underneath her which requires using the hip joints in a variety of positions.  We will present the basic sitting positions and provide photographs when our stellar caterpillars learn them.


  1. Legs straight ahead, knees straight
  2. Butterfly, with knees pointing out to the sides and the soles of the feet together in the center
  3. Tailor-sit, like the butterfly but with the lower legs, ankles, and feet crossed
  4. “W”-sit, with knees rotating a bit inward, thighs close together, and feet pointing out to the sides
  5. Side sit, with both knees pointing to one side while both feet point to the other side

It is important for baby to spend time in each of the these positions for optimal development of the hip joint and for emotional growth.  Baby is more independent and confident when she has more movement choices available to her.  She will have several ways to lean to the side and get a toy, a few ways to sit and play with a book, and a couple of choices for moving from lying on her back to sitting.  And with many choices available, the sky is the limit for what baby can do!




Alignment is the term used to describe how the bones of the human body are stacked up.  Babies benefit from optimal alignment because their movement is quick, efficient, and easy on the muscles and joints.  When the bones are not stacked up in a favorable alignment, such as in a baby who sits with her spine curved like the letter “C,” her muscles work too hard and she is not stable.  This makes it very difficult for her to move.  Remember how you took your car in to have the wheels aligned last Spring?  The mechanic was looking at the placement of all the parts making the wheels turn.  His job is to align the tires, put the tires in exactly the places which produce the most efficient driving.

For much of the first six months, baby is lying on the floor.  She plays and sleeps on her belly, on her back, and on her side.  The importance of alignment comes in when babies learn sitting and standing.  At this stage, babies learn to deal with gravity as they bring more and more of their bones into the upright position.  The principles of alignment are governed by the laws of natural forces such as gravity.  The human body learns to overcome these forces when moving into the upright position.  Baby’s first year includes tasks of overcoming gravity such as sitting, standing, and walking.  The better aligned the spine is, the easier it is for baby.  And, remember, we all wish the stars were aligned when our babies were born!



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.



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.

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baby, gross motor skill development, baby rollingbaby, gross motor skill development, baby rollingNow 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!