Why should my baby be on the floor?
For your baby 0 – 6 months
Parents are currently bombarded by the most beautiful and clever baby gear companies, who claims that their produce is a “must have”. But is it? That is the issue I want to address today: does your baby really need all these impressive “must haves” – rockers, prams, different supporting chairs, etc.? How does these contribute to your baby’s development?
Recent research in the Netherlands has found that the variety of movement in the first four months of a baby’s life has a huge impact on the baby’s development. According to Dr Melodie de Jager from the BabyGym Institute it is a known fact that a baby needs to move to build his or her brain. Does “equipment” help baby to move?
Unfortunately, not. Baby needs to be on the floor to be able to exercise all the muscle groups that will allow him or her to reach all milestones in sequence. But this is where the problem comes in: what mother will put her baby on the floor? That sounds rather “platvloers”.
It is best to start right from birth by putting your baby on your chest: skin to skin. Keep on doing this as it will develop strength in baby’s neck and neck control leads on to all other development (BabyGym). As soon as baby is ready to explore further, start putting your baby on a rug on a solid surface: on his back, on his tummy, on his right side and then on his left side. Baby needs to attach with gravity before he/she can detach from gravity by sitting up and eventually getting up on his feet (BabyGym).
A baby on his or her back only has the ceiling to look at and will soon become bored. Invest in something that will allow you to hang a variety of images or items above the baby: reflective items like a CD or small disco ball, some black and white images like the eyes, nose and smile of a face drawn or stuck on a white paper plate. After a while you can add red items as that is the first color a baby will be able to see. Be creative and find items in your home.
A human face on the other side is helpful if baby is on it’s tummy, but as for the baby, that is a rather awkward position. Invest in a stand-up mirror that you can place in front of your baby. They love the image of “the other” baby and smile and giggle with the mirror image.
Use a rolled-up towel or blanket or even a pool noodle to put behind your baby’s back if putting him/her on their sides: both right and left side and have something interesting for them to look at. It might only last a few seconds, but will gradually develop into minutes.
Whatever you do, get your baby on the floor. Use a singlecolor blanket and put only one toy, in a contrasting color, at a time in front of baby. Swop the item for something else as soon as baby gets bored. Common household items like your measuring cups or spoons are more than good enough. Baby does not need toys at this stage.
When is the best time to get your baby on the floor? As soon as baby is old enough to be separated from mommy for shorter periods. Keep on trying and do not be discouraged if baby cries. Try again at a later stage. Remember: in the struggle lies the freedom (BabyGym slogan). While baby is moving his/her body to get out of that position, he/she uses a lot of muscles and develops muscle tone and strength, which is so necessary for all the milestones to develop on time.
If baby is already sitting by more or less 6 months, it is almost too late as they will then prefer the sitting position. At this stage, you will surround your baby with pillows, allowing him/her to stretch for a toy, allow them to topple over. Do not get frantic and rush to their rescue. Allow them to try and move out of this position. Soon they will be able to move back onto the tummy and up on all fours into the crawling position – this is what is called functional sitting.
You have a choice: be “platvloers” and allow your baby lots of rug time or invest in beautiful gadgets and hamper your baby’s natural development.