On March 7, we hosted Live on Instagram, Caroline, physiotherapist and founder of CAPP , for multidisciplinary center for holistic support for women and families , in Tassin-la-Demi-Lune near Lyon. Over the course of an hour and a quarter of dense and informative discussion, we discussed together the free motor skills of babies and young children up to 3 years old .
- What is free motor skills?
- The prerequisites: a secure environment and… that’s it
- Baby walks: free motor skills in practice
- Classic childcare equipment, not always suitable
- Free motor skills in brief
What is free motor skills?
There free motor skills is a caring concept which tends to come back in force in recent years. From birth to 3 years children and even afterwards, it is about them leave their movements free as often as possible . Unhindered, they evolve in a environment favorable to the development of the body diagram, motor skills and autonomy, at their own pace.
The prerequisites: a secure environment and… that’s it
As Caroline demonstrated to us during the Live Instagram to be found on our account @elhee_france , Practicing free motor skills with your baby is literally given to everyone and only offers benefits . Since the first principle is to leave the infant — from birth — free to move and discover first his body and then his environment, you need almost no equipment, just attention.
Your new essential? A rather firm floor mat without accessories . Free motor skills leave the soft play mat and its pastel-colored arch at the door, to refocus on a much more sober type of mat.
Did you know ? Until around 3 months, baby sees in black and white. The red and green colors appear around 3 months, then the others, gradually, around 5 or 6 months.
Do you practice yoga or gym at home? If so, you may be using one of these smooth mats, designed not to slip and to be easily cleaned. This is exactly what your baby needs! From the first weeks, lying on his back, he looks, listens and turns his head freely to the right and left when you talk to him.
To take full advantage of it and allow your baby to grow in complete safety, free up the space around you. Remove anything that could fall or be caught and keep pets away during these awake times . They will only be richer in the exchanges between you and your child.
Baby walks: free motor skills in practice
Around 12 to 18 months, baby will start to get up and try to move around to explore their environment. Carpets and cushions are still part of your environment to cushion any falls, but the rest of the space is more refined to facilitate the first attempts.
At the same time, secure the furniture (especially corners and doors), remove stored dangerous or fragile objects for a while and make sure to close access to the stairs in the house: you will have more peace of mind. Shoes are still optional at this stage. Instead, leave baby barefoot to allow him to develop his senses, muscles and reflexes. If necessary, on the tiled floor or on the terrace, consider ultra-soft slippers.
The first steps are not far away? It's the long-awaited moment of the first shoes. Then opt for soft baby shoes suitable for first steps, easy to put on, with a reinforced toe cap and a non-slip sole.
Finally, keep in mind that self-confidence plays a crucial role in learning to walk. Encourage, applaud and celebrate every little progress!
Classic childcare equipment, not always suitableSome of the current childcare equipment is in contradiction with free motor skills because it is too fixed, too restrictive or even useless. Do you want to practice free motor skills with your baby? As a physiotherapist, Caroline recommends that you keep in the closet, resell or not buy the following items :
- THE play mat , too soft it hinders the movements and movements of babies,
- THE deck chair , the infant is attached to it with limited possibility of movement, moreover, he is often installed in a semi-sitting position which does not suit him,
- the games ark and the mobile provide fixed gaze and attention while baby needs to be stimulated and move in all directions,
- THE cozy used as a stroller or as an extra bed , outside the car where it is useful, it completely prevents the movements of children,
- THE clothes that are too big, too tight or too stiff which do not facilitate travel.
You don't want to part with either one? One solution to consider is to reduce the time of use or reserve them for certain times, in order to maintain wide ranges of free motor skills for your baby.
Free motor skills: the benefits for your health
The very philosophy of free motor skills is to do not suggest or impose on baby any movement that he has not learned on his own . For example, it is not recommended to seat a child who does not know how to do it alone, without outside help. To fully understand and master the position, he must first move from his back to his stomach and successfully crawl. Then he can try to sit up.
In short, to be comfortable and fully develop your body plan (recognize and use his two arms, hands and legs of which he is not aware at birth) a baby needs to experiment , which free motor skills allow. If his toys are always given to him in the right hand, from the right side, he will tend not to use the left hand because his body map remains incomplete. If he is always installed under a play arch positioned well in front of him, there is no reason for him to turn his head to the right or left.
Thus, a baby who always turns to the same side in his bed (because that's where the entrance to his room is, where the window is) or who remains lying on your back too often without moving your head , risks developing plagiocephaly, a common syndrome also called, flat head syndrome . Practicing or setting up free motor skills spaces at home allows you to avoid or alleviate these types of symptoms. Encourage him, for example, by talking to him from the other side, by changing the direction of his bed or by turning him on his mattress, if the latter is installed against a wall.
Thanks to free motor skills, each baby, each child learns to move in harmony with their abilities, learns from their failures, their falls, but above all from their victories. For a child confident with his body.
You will save money!
This is obviously not the primary goal, but free motor skills can also help you save money. As Caroline explains very well in our video, a large part of childcare equipment is ultimately not really useful or not entirely suitable for babies, quite simply because it hinders or restricts their movements excessively.
Free motor skills in brief
You will have understood, free motor skills are aptly named. For you, it is about observing and letting your baby evolve as he wishes. Your biggest role? Ensure your peace and safety during your exercise sessions. To practice, nothing could be simpler. Learn to identify the 5 main stages of motor skills: the position lying on the back at birth, the turning then the flat stomach, the baby who begins to crawl then to do all fours and finally the standing position which leads to walking .
- Respect their pace without intervening : propose, make available, but do not force and do not do for him.
- Give him a favorable, secure and stress-free environment with a firm floor mat, installed in a comfortable and safe room for your baby.
- Your child gains confidence : step after step, success after success, he takes the road to autonomy.
So ! Free motor skills are a bit of all that. Learn to feel your body and use it alone, like a grown-up, at your own pace, as close as possible to self-knowledge, from birth.