From Water to Gravity: What Babies Really Need

In the safe, warm and protected nest that is mummy’s body, gravity has yet to come into play. A baby’s world is still surrounded by the security and buoyancy of mummy’s womb. Once a baby departs a mother’s body, however, he enters a world with gravity and from then on, will embark on a journey to learn how to move and live with gravity in his new environment.

How will the change affect babies?

Security and safety are extremely important to a baby’s environment and psyche as he develops his learning skills. Our baby needs to feel secure and have his basic needs met before he is free to initiate exploration and play. When our baby is hungry or lacks sleep, he is likely fussy and wills his energy to demand that these needs be met instead of exploring his own free play and absorbing new environments.

How can I do that while ensuring that my baby gets to play and learn?

You can use your body like a tuning fork to synchronise your baby’s rhythm and energy with yours, because babies absorb their environments like a sponge.

Babies understand their environments through stimuli of their external world around them. Feeling safe and calm, or anxious and afraid depends very much on how their mother or caretaker is feeling at the moment. When mummy is calm and comfortable, her baby will absorb those vibes and be soothed by them. So a stressed out mum most likely sends restless energy to her baby.

That means a relaxed mummy equals a relaxed and playful baby!

Can I create a sense of security for my baby the same way?

Yes! When we can be fully present and relaxed. As a mummy, we ‘hold’ our babies in our personal space, both physically and also with our energy vibrations. When your baby feels your relaxed presence, he has the confidence to try new things, to play and to learn.

What about gravity, how can I support my baby best?

Babies need the gravity for support in order to move. When you observe them, you will see how they are either pushing or pulling themselves to reach for something that has caught their eye. This movement of push and pull is their negotiation with gravity – the constant learning force that propels them to keep exploring their movement capabilities.

Pay attention and observe your baby’s current development stage. Encourage him to continue expanding on his current mobility without pushing him to do more. For example, if the child has not even learned to roll over, don’t try to make him sit up.

Ask yourself, ‘How can I provide support for my baby and teach him to support himself, given the stage he’s at now?’. Follow your baby’s innocent wisdom and place your trust in his ability and potential. That is the safest and secure way you can help him in his growth.

How can I create the buoyancy that my baby enjoyed in the womb, in a non-water environment?

Newborns have yet to discover movement so they rely on their parents to provide them with the motions they were familiar with while in the womb. This is probably why babies love to be rocked – it mimics the buoyancy they knew so well.

A baby’s body cells take note of the movements and sense of gravity when his mother holds him. Think of it as their cellular information bank account growing richer. Gradually, babies begin to move their own limbs by kicking, reaching with the hands or wriggling their toes. As they learn to use their own bodies, they begin to rely less on others. It’s the first step towards the ultimate goal: Being able to walk.

 

By Amy Tan

 Amy Tan is a movement therapist and educator passionate about living with nature.  Since becoming a mother,  she left the city for a free-range farm life in the jungle where she raises her two children. Her jungle family life was featured on the documentary series, Living Free with Kimi Werner on National Geographic.

 

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