Tag Archives: locomotion


a baby learns belly crawling


When baby learns to crawl, whether it is on her belly or on her hands and knees, she is very happy.  She is now able to explore the entire room on her own!  Her curiosity motivates her and she travels around the room exploring toys, shoes, books, musical instruments, the family dog, and any other object left at her eye level.  What development in her muscles and bones has occurred to launch this new skill?  Although a few significant developments must occur in order for the major milestone of crawling to occur, one of the most important is the new movement of the hip joint.  While in tummy time, one side of the pelvis lifts a little bit up into the air so the knee on the same side can bend up toward the ribs.  The coordination between the pelvis and the ribs allows the knee to bend up quite a bit.  Soon, she will learn to push the bent leg down into the floor to propel herself forward in space.  This action of bending the leg is very important for baby to learn.  It is the key to learning the skill of crawling.


When baby is about five or six months old, place her in tummy time.  Gently squeeze the sides of her pelvis and lift one side up toward the ceiling and then the other side up toward the ceiling.  Try doing this movement at a very slow pace.  Go from side to side lifting one hip up toward the ceiling followed by the other hip.  Next, when you lift the right hip up toward the ceiling try and bend the right knee up toward toward her side ribs.  Repeat this by alternating from one side to the other.  This teaches the coordination of the movement.  If her legs are stiff, spend some time every day with her on her back bending and extending each leg several times.  The muscles will soften and make it easier for you to bend her leg when she is on her stomach.  And remember to avoid using equipment that puts baby on her feet such as an exersaucer or jumper.  Her bones and muscles are not ready for her to be on her feet.  Remember that she has the rest of her life to be on her feet, but only now to play on the floow.”


Babies are motivated by curiosity and exploration.  Learn some DIY Mommy Crafts to make at home for baby play to encourage motor skill development and the learning that occurs through the five senses.  Below are some screen shots from Stellar Caterpillar’s Pinterest Board “Mommy Crafts.”  For the young babies create a mobile or 3D nursery art to stimulate baby sight.  Her eyes are still developing and she sees movement of objects probably more clearly than their color or shape.   Read “What a Newborn Sees” and “Babies’ Eyes and Movement Skill Development” to learn what will stimulate baby’s sight for her age.  Create hand puppets and read our post “Baby Cruising Fast” for an example of how to use a puppet or stuffed animal to stimulate the motor skill of cruising.  When baby learns to walk make some DIY bubbles for her to chase.  Learn some simple home-made crafts for activities that motivate movement and inspire learning which is beneficial for the development of your baby.

3D cloud as a nursery mobile

3D Nursery Art to stimulate baby eyesight

DIY Board Book for baby

DIY Board Book stimulates speech development in baby

bunny hand puppets for baby play

Hand Puppets to encourage motor skill development such as cruising

baby play sensory bags

Sensory Bags for Baby Play to stimulate the sense of touch

DIY Bubbles

DIY Bubbles for baby play after reaching the motor milestone of walking


a push/pull toy for a toddler


Push/pull toys are toys on wheels that move when pulled by a string or pushed by a long handle that resembles a stick.  Pull toys have a long string attached to them and are often in the shape of an adorable animal such as a duck, caterpillar, or dog.  The animal moves when the string is pulled and sometimes makes a sound suck as a clacking.  Push toys can be small and in the shape of an animal such as a duck or large and in the shape of a pram.  These toys are great for babies and toddlers who have mastered the motor milestone of walking.  The toys also stimulate baby curiosity and benefit babies not yet crawling.


a duck push toy on a stick

A Push Toy

Babies and toddlers benefit from the motor skill activity of pushing and pulling.  The benefits include improved  balance and coordination.  As baby pulls the string on a pull toy she turns in circles and must turn her body to observe the toy.  She learns to organize her body movement to allow for the action of pulling something and turning to observe it as she moves.  This requires a certain amount of dexterity.  Sometimes she shifts her weight onto one leg as she turns which develops balance.

Playing with a push toy, such as the above wooden duck on a stick by Bella Luna Toys, develops spatial awareness.  As they push the toy they learn to pay attention to the space in front of them where the toy is moving on the ground.  This develops the toddler’s ability to pay attention to what is going on in front of her so she may avoid colliding with other people and objects such as furniture and toys.  Children also develop dexterity as they adjust their body and movement in order to maneuver the toy around corners and through doorways.


alligator pull toy for babies and toddlers

A Pull Toy

Even before baby is able to push or pull the toy herself it can benefit her motor skill development.   The novelty of these toys for a baby is that they mysteriously seems to move and then stop.  Baby does not understand that her mother is pulling a sting or pushing a stick to create the movement.  She is intrigued by these toys.  Use a pull toy playfully with baby when she is close to learning the motor skill of crawling.  Try placing the toy just out of baby’s reach and then pull on the string to get the toy moving.  Baby’s curiosity will motivate her to to go after this moving animal.  She may figure out how to crawl one or two “steps” just to reach this toy.  Once she takes her first few “steps” she will crawl with more confidence.  Please include push/pull toys in your collection of developmental toys for babies and toddlers.


Stellar Caterpillar would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a bright and beautiful 2013!  As we take some time to relax over the holiday we have posted links to the top 5 posts of the year from stellarcaterpillar.com.  Just in case you missed them or are new to our site, here is your chance to catch them!

  1. Virtual Lessons for the Motor Skill of Crawling, parts 1 – 3:  Stellar Caterpillar connects with parents around the world to help parents guide babies toward skillful movement.  Watch the progress of one of our students on the other side of the country as this baby learns to crawl.
  2. Baby Toys:  Unplugged vs. Electronic:  In our age of technology their are an abundance of electronic baby toys available on the market.  This posts provides tips for parents on choosing baby toys that foster motor skill develop and provide entertainment.
  3. Baby Development:  Sitting:  Watch baby Maddox discover the motor skill of sitting up for the very first time.  Observe the joy that a baby feels when he learns to sit on his own, without being put into the sitting position by someone else.
  4. Baby Stepping Reflex:  This post explains how babies are born with a reflex that causes them to take steps as they are put on their feet and inclined forward slightly.  Learn the difference between the involuntary movement of baby reflexes and the voluntary movement of motor skills.
  5. Baby Rattles:  How to Introduce a Rattle:  When a baby is learning the motor skill of grasping and reaching for the first time, learn tips for how to successfully introduce a rattle for baby play time.

Have you “liked” us on facebook?  Keep up with baby product recalls, inspirational quotes, and the latest news in baby development in 2013!

Follow us on Pinterest!  One of the fastest growing social media sites, the online pinboard of Pinterest provides a place to collect visual images and categorize them by theme.  Our boards provide inspiration for nursery ideas, motor skill games, baby fashion, healthy snacks for parents, relaxation tips for parents, and much more.


YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image


The motor milestone of rolling is a significant event for baby because it is usually the first skill of locomotion achieved.  These skills enable baby to move from one place in the room to another all on her own for the very first time.  She can now travel across the floor to reach her favorite toy by rolling.  This sequence of rolls  one after another is referred to as “log rolling.”  Some babies learn to roll from their back to their tummy or from their tummy to their back but do not learn to roll across a room.  It is a higher level of skill development to learn the motor skill of log rolling.  It provides beneficial baby exercise and vestibular stimulation.  It also fosters independence and confidence.


Observe the babies in the above videos from youtube as two examples of log rolling.  The first video is from  jlr2b’s youtube channel and the second video is from VickiEllenWilson’s youtube channel.  Each of these two babies organizes the motor skill of rolling differently.  What do I mean by “organizes the motor skill?” The term “organizes” refers to the sequencing of body parts in the execution of a movement.  In other words, what body parts moves first, which one second  third, etc.  It is an aspect of the coordination of the movement.  The two babies in the above videos may soon discover other patterns of coordination for the skill of rolling  or they may stick to the pattern that is comfortable and successful.  After all, they are traveling around the room on their own now!  Parents (and grandparents) of both babies should be very proud!  Let’s examine their patterns.

The baby girl in the first video rolls from her back to her tummy by moving both of her legs to the left.  She lifts both legs up into the air and then takes them over to the left. Once they touch the floor the rest of her body rolls.  Next, she rolls from her tummy to her back by putting her right shoulder down followed by moving her head to the right which rolls her onto her back.  The baby boy in the second video demonstrates how the weight of the head can initiate a movement.  When he is on his tummy he lifts his head very high, tilts his head to the left, and the weight of his head takes him into a roll onto his back.  From his back he initiates rolling onto his tummy by moving his chest.  He is very confident in his skill and travels around the room exploring Grandma’s feet, a pair of shoes, and a pile of papers.


One of the most important benefits baby receives from the motor milestone of log rolling is the confidence to travel and explore the world around her.  She becomes more independent as she no longer needs mom to bring toys to her. TIn the development of a baby, this is an emotional milestone as well as a physical one.  Baby is so proud when she can travel across the room and reach her favorite toy all on her own!  Soon, she learns she can repeat the skill whenever she desires.


baby crawling on play mat


The purchase of a play mat may be one of the most important pieces of gear that parents can purchase or receive as a baby shower gift.  Available in various colors and patterns, shapes and sizes, textures and styles, a play mat reserves a space in the home to devote to baby play and motor skill development.  The minutes that baby spends playing on the floor, known as floor time, is essential for achieving motor milestones.    Through pushing her hands and legs and against the floor she discovers that she can move.  Skills of locomotion such as the motor skill of rolling or crawling emerge during this play time.  Tummy time is another infant developmental activity that is perfect for floor time.  Here are our tips for parents on how to choose a play mat:


  1. SIZE:  Choose a play mat that is large in size so that as her motor skill of locomotion develop, such as rolling and crawling, she will have plenty of space to move and explore.  Some mats, such as the one in the above photo, are created with interlocking pieces of foam.  This allows you to expand the size of the mat as baby’s motor skills develop.  For the first three months baby’s motor skills such as kicking occur without traveling in space.  Soon, however, she learns to roll and needs more space.
  2. SOFTNESS: Remember Goldilocks? Keep in mind her careful choice of a bed: “This bed is too hard, this one is too soft, and this one is just right!”  A play mat that is too soft and squishy will not give baby enough proprioception as she pushes her hands and knees down into the floor. The mat needs to be a bit firm.  Although babies learn their motor skills on tile or hardwood floors in various cultures around the world, a play area too hard may make mom nervous that she will hit her head as she learns to sit or roll.  A mat with just a bit of cushion will be “Just right!”
  3. PORTABILITY:  Do you like to go to the park, beach, or overnight visit to grandma and grandpa’s house?  Some play mats fold up easily for babies on the go.  Travel styles include play mats made from interlocking foam pieces, quilts and blankets that are easily foldable and lightweight, and mats that roll up into a carry bag.
  4. EASY TO CLEAN:  A play mat should be easily cleaned with a non-toxic cleaner or readily laundered in the washing machine.  Part of maintaining a “green” home includes regular cleaning to remove dust that contains toxic particles.
  5. NON-TOXIC:  Baby will spend hours on her play mat, so choose one made of non-toxic materials such as a cotton quilt.  Remember that the skin is one of our largest organs and baby’s skin will be close to the mat for hours every day.  Toxic baby products made of plastic may off-gas harmful chemicals for baby’s developing system and it is recommended to avoid them.  Two cotton quilts placed one on top of the other works quite well as a natural option.

Remember to bring your body down onto the play mat as well so you can be at eye-level with baby.  If she can see your face when she learns to lift her head it will be a wonderful reward!