Beyond Roll-Over: The Natural Progression of Physical Development

In a lighthearted conversation about my daughter’s first birthday next month, a well-meaning adult, who loves her very much, commented to Greysen, “You have to walk by your first birthday!” Does she?

Though I do not think this adult’s expectations is altering her developmental path in anyway, I do regret that this individual and countless others like him are not able to appreciate all the physical accomplishments my daughter has achieved so far. She can do so much more than roll over, sit, and crawl.
Children’s physical development, when allowed to unfold naturally, is more complex and varied than the tricks commanded of a dog.  That may seem obvious, but rolling over, sitting, and walking seem to be the only standards by which children’s growth and success are generally measured.
In the book, Unfolding of Infants’ Natural Gross Motor Development (2006) published by Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), illustrations of the motor development of children whose growth was supported by letting it develop naturally are detailed. Infant movement is described in the following four categories:

1. Lying positions
2. Transitional positions
3. Sitting
4.  Standing.

Each chapter further illustrates movement, as it has been observed in infants. The lying section, for instance, describes the intricacies of movement from lying supine to prone. The transitional positions section describes increasingly complex infant movements such as “half-sitting” or “side-lying elbow position”.
Most importantly, these movements are not qualified by age. No date by which you can expect your child to do these movements or descriptions of how to encourage your child to crawl accompany the sketches. The importance of these simple definitions is the attention that they bring to the myriad of movements that largely go unappreciated by the milestone checklists.

References:
The Pikler Institute. (2006). Unfolding of Infants’ Natural Gross Motor Development (2006). Resources for Infant Educarers.

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