Tag Archives: locomotion


baby with push-toy in grass

Explore the space in front.

Baby drags push-toy behind her when walking.

Explore the space behind.

toddler pushes toy near edges of a wall

Explore the edges of the space.

A baby plays on the grass at a park and bends her ankles more because of the uneven terrain.

Navigate the uneven terrain.


When babies play with push-toys it develops their awareness of the space immediately around them.  By focusing their attention on the moving object at the end of a stick they train their focus to be a bit further in front or behind them.  This skill is important for baby safety because it trains the child to notice when a stair in coming up in front of them or if a toy is lying in their path that might cause a fall.  This awareness is key for developing advanced skills later such as riding a bicycle.  When riding a bicycle a child must keep constant attention on the space in front of them (where they are going) as well as the space around them (so no one runs into them).  Baby develops a clearer sense of the space around them as they also discover the edges of the space.  The edges define the space.


Exploring space both inside the home and outside, at a park for example, develop strength in muscles as well as spatial awareness.  The uneven terrain at a park requires more movement of the joints and more strength in the muscles to navigate.  A gradual sloping hill, an edge of a sidewalk next to the grass, a stair, or a metal plate are examples of changes in the terrain that a baby may encounter in an outside play environment.  Each of these requires more demand on the muscles and joints to change the level (on a hill or a stair) or to move from one texture to another (sidewalk to grass).  The open space at a park invites baby to travel a lot and explore which is wonderful motor skill development.





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Babies prepare their bones and muscles for the motor skill of crawling through achieving mini milestones. One of these is the activity of scooting around in circles with the belly on the floor.  How does this prepare the body for crawling on the hands and knees or on the belly?  If baby is pushing with her hands to move in a circle she is developing the use of a flat palm which is necessary to support her weight on her hands and knees.  The action of pushing with her palm teaches the shoulder muscles to work.  She also learns that by pushing part of her body against the floor she moves around on the floor.  This is the beginning of learning skills of locomotion.  When she looks over one shoulder and scoots in that direction she is also developing the movement of the ribcage.


One of the most important developments that occurs when baby is scooting in a circle is the movement between the ribcage and the pelvis.  Observe the baby in the above video from joshandkarale’s youtube channel.  Look at the wrinkles that develop in the baby’s shirt on the sides of his ribcage.  If he looks to the right and scoots to the right you will see the wrinkles that appear on the right side of his T-shirt.  This happens because the right side of the ribcage is moving closer to the right hip joint.  The baby is slightly closing the right side of her body.  When the baby learns to crawl on her belly or on her hands and knees you may see this distance (between the ribs and pelvis) alternating between opening and closing.  A baby that is very articulate in this movement often crawls very fast.  The motor skill of sitting up may also be more graceful in a baby that can articulate this relationship between the ribcage and the pelvis.  Allow baby to spend time scooting in circles on the floor.  Try inviting this movement by placing toys a bit off to the right or left since the movement begins with baby looking over one shoulder.  When does baby learn to crawl?  Maybe after scooting in circles!


a baby holds a toy while rolling

My 6 month old doesn’t roll from her back to belly or her belly to back.  She does roll from her back to side.   She can’t get to her belly, and I think her arm may be in the way.  We were going to try this motor skill of rolling exercise but was told to wait and see if she can do it on her own but she still hasn’t, should I try to help her now?  From Lilly’s Mommy


Thanks, Lilly’s Mommy, for asking one of the most frequently asked questions by moms in my classes.  You observed your daughter very carefully and discovered that she is getting stuck in the movement from her side to her belly because her arm is in the way.  In the above exercise that you refer to, observe how the baby is holding a small toy.  She is holding a small toy that can not poke her in the eye.  This toy helps her arms to be in one of the useful positions for learning to roll.  The incorrect position of the arms for rolling is when baby is on her belly and the arms are straight out to the sides like an airplane where they can be bent backward as she rolls onto her back.  Please avoid this position of the arms.

If you try this baby exercise you may want to give her a soft toy to hold in her hands.  Roll her in very small increments.  Begin rolling her from her back to her side, where she is comfortable.  Then go a bit further, then a little bit further.  With each repetition you can increase the range of motion about 1/4 an inch.  This gives you the chance to make sure her arm is not in he way.  If you want to send a video to me I can be more specific about it, but I do not know exactly where her arm is getting stuck.  (Videos remain confidential.)  Or, you might try a virtual lesson with me.


Developmental play for babies is where parents and caregivers interact with babies in a manner that evokes the next developmental pattern.  For example, saying “Ba,Ba” and then pausing for baby to repeat after you eventually results in baby learning to say the sound “Ba!”.  Looking at a book with baby and pointing out the doggies and saying “dog,”  “dog,” and “dog” teaches her to say the word “dog” herself.  Soon, she will pick up the book and point to everything and say “dog.”  These are examples of baby play for speech development.

Movement developmental play is where you show baby how to improve a motor skill in a playful way.  For example, when baby is on her back, you can bend her legs and put her feet down on the floor so she can push and scoot backward.  This is the motor skill of scooting.  This movement is a fun surprise to her.  She did the movement, not you.  You just gave her the clue!  It is a fun game for her that develops her strength in her legs and the ability to push off of the floor.  This is developmental play through movement.  This is what we do in these lessons.


Through showing her with your hands where to move her baby arms when she rolls is developmental play.  To just keep her stuck and wait until she magically figures it out is to assume that all babies will  learn to roll, which is not true.  Many babies never roll, many babies never crawl, etc.  Or they reach a state of frustration before they learn the skill.  Sometimes a clue from us regarding the coordination of the movement is all that is needed.  It is to their advantage to learn these skills with ease and play.  Through our guidance they can master their motor skills with joy.   This ability to learn motor skills through ease and with coordination and skill develops a strong self-image.


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In the development of a baby, the feet are one of the fastest growing and parts of the body.  Baby will outgrow socks and shoes faster than any article of clothing.  Choosing proper foot coverings for baby’s feet is crucial since the feet are actively part of motor skill development.  Obviously, they are used for learning the motor skill of walking.  They are also part of the motor skill of crawling since they assist in propelling the body forward. They coordinate with the hands in the motor skills of grasping and reaching as the baby demonstrates in the above video from 12stringssteel’s youtube channel  This baby has discovered his feet and how interesting they are to touch.  There are the short and stubby toes that wiggle and the smooth soles, very different tactile experiences. The developmental stage where baby plays with his toes and feet is an important one.  Notice how toward the end of the video he takes his left hand to the right foot.  This diagonal connection is a very important milestone.


The only reason baby’s feet need to be covered during the pre-walking stages of infant development is for warmth.  Baby’s feet can be kept warm with socks or a blanket, shoes are not necessary.  Since the feet grow in size quite a bit during the first year, it is best not to cover baby’s feet in a way that constrains the length or width of the foot.  Keep the socks fitting loosely.  It is important not to stuff the feet into a pair of socks like putting sausages in a casing.  Sometimes socks will shrink in the wash.  In this situation the socks changed size rather than the feet but it is the same problem for baby of not enough wiggle room for the toes and uncomfortable pressure on the sides of the feet.  It is important for baby to be comfortable.

Remember, barefoot is best for baby!


baby crawling on hands and knees

My baby will soon be crawling.  We have wood floors, so I am wondering how to make it easy on his knees/toes and how to soften any falls on his face or chin.  Do you have any suggestions or should I not worry about it?  Thanks.  You have a great website!


Many mothers ask this question as their precious baby begins to rock back and forth on all fours. The precarious shifts of weight while gaining the strength to crawl forward on the hands and knees may include occasional falls.  This is part of the learning process.  Many mothers would like the ground to be as soft as possible for those moments where baby begins to crawl and soon falls down.  Homes with carpet work just fine as do homes with wood or tile floors.  Babies learn to crawl on wood and stone floors all over the world.  Just think about the floors in countries with hot climates and where carpeting is not practical such as Mexico, Israel, Italy, and Indonesia.  Babies learn all of their motor skills on these hard and often uneven floors.   Avoid using baby knee pads which are not great for the development of a baby.  If you would like to “soften” the floor a bit, try placing a quilt on the ground or buy some interlocking foam to create a large play mat.  It is thick enough to provide some softness yet still firm enough to provide stability.  And remember, fortunately the ground is not far away.


When baby learns to meet each of his motor milestones, it benefits him when he falls down.  Baby will fall out of one movement into another.  For example, a baby that walks will fall down and land in the hands and knees crawling position.  A baby that is hands and knees crawling will fall down into the belly crawling position.  The motor skill of rolling is a pattern that a baby who is walking or crawling may land in after a fall.  However, baby will only land in these positons or actions if he has learned them well and repeated them many times.  The motor skills that baby has learned become very strong patterns of movement in the brain.  These are called movement habits.  This means that the body will automatically transition from a quick fall into one of these familiar patterns which include rolling and belly crawling.  In the motor milestones of crawling and falling, I suggest that what is most important is not whether or not the floor is too hard, but whether or not baby has mastered the earlier motor skills of rolling and belly crawling.


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When baby masters the motor milestone of walking, it is time to buy baby shoes.  But, please do not buy just any baby shoes.  Prior to this moment, shoes were worn primarily for photo moments.  Now shoes need to be purchased that allow baby to move efficiently and have a textured sole to prevent slipping.  This allows her to master the motor skill of walking.  When purchasing shoes, take into consideration how the construction of the shoe effects the mechanics of baby’s walk.  This means parents should observe how the fabric, the sole, and the shape of the shoe effect how baby moves her body.  Thanks to the above video from SagetoSummit’s youtube channel, we can observe the skill in an infant’s new walking ability with soft-soled shoes vs. a stiffer shoe (in this video the stiffer shoe is made by NIKE).


When you see your baby walking, look closely at his stride before and after you put a pair of shoes on him.  The term “stride” or “gait” refers to how the legs and feet move while walking.  When a baby learns to walk their stride can be a bit wide (feet are wider than hips).  This helps them feel balanced.  A wider base of support can be more stable than a narrow base.  Some babies learn to walk with their feet under their hips (a narrow stride), especially if they have received skilled movement lessons.

In the above video when baby wears the stiffer soled shoes  (NIKE baby sneakers) his stride gets even wider showing less balance.  When he wears the baby sneakers (stiffer sole) he also has to pick his feet up quite a bit to take each step forward.  This is because his ankle joint is not able to move as much due to the stiff material of the shoe.  If you have ever skied before, think about the feeling of wearing a pair of skis or snow shoes which do not allow for ankle movement.  You have to pick your feet up as this baby is doing in the video.  With the soft-soles shoes, the baby walks with more articulation (bend) in the ankle joint and a slightly narrower base of support.  As a result, with the soft-soled shoes baby walks faster due to his improved mechanics.  The baby sneakers slow him down.  Save them for the basketball court in another ten years and buy soft sole baby shoes for now.