While reading a report for me today, my sister asked me “why does a non-mobile child need a movement area?” It was a great question and a reminder to continue my series on the symbiotic period.
Calling a newborn a non-mobile child is actually a misnomer because from birth, a child in the right environment can actually move himself by gradually rotating. The child’s movements in the beginning are mostly reflexive and uncoordinated by gradually he learns to coordinate it. We can help by providing the environment described below.
The movement area is the child’s space. unlike the other areas which consider the adult’s convenience, this area considers only the child’s developmental needs. It is where he is free to move and engage with the environment without any distractions or contraptions. There are 4 main things that make up the movement area.
The mat: A small flat mattress or thick blanket covered with a sheet (needs extras to allow for changing and washing) makes the movement mat. A plain (bed)sheet reduces the distractions and allows the child to focus on the mirror, the mobile or his movements. It also makes it easy to see stains, dirt or anything that you don’t want near your baby. The mat should be long and wide enough for the baby to turn 360 degrees… yes, given the opportunity, the newborn is able to do this.
The mirror: This, to me, is the best thing in my child’s room. It’s such a shame that it is not considered necessary. The mirror allows the child to see himself, the room, and the people and things around the room. He can watch himself and increase awareness of his body. Initially his movements are involuntary but then he gradually learns how to coordinate them by watching himself and repeating the actions and then they become voluntary. Again, this for me is a key part of the movement area.
That’s it! It’s so easy to create and it’s cheaper that a lot of the contraptions that are sold for new borns. You probably already have all you need to create this area.
Freedom of movement is one of the pillars in the foundation of a child’s independence and self esteem. The freedom to move his hands and legs and the knowledge (from seeing himself in the mirror) starts letting the child know from an early age that he is able to control his situation.
The movement area should be created in the place where the child will spend most of his time ideally his room. It can also be in his parents room or the living area.
This is a good place to do tummy time and listen to music. You can also sing or read to the child or just observe him. You’ll be fascinated by what you see.
As usual, questions and comments are welcome!
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