Parker the back archer.
Parker’s parents brought him in for a Bright Baby Milestone Check-Up soon after he was born and at 3 months. We noticed that he kicked his legs very straight and often arched his back. This is very common in babies AND is a sign that the muscles in the front of the body are under developing while the muscles in the back are over developing. It is optimal for babies to develop a balance of front and back muscle tone; another way to say this is flexion and extension. For example, we often see a baby beautifully flexed around mama’s body during nursing and extended when they hear a loud noise. Without a balance of flexor and extender muscles, it is very likely that baby will not be able to go through each of the developmental movement stages because they require the ability to flex and extend equally. When a baby is “stuck” in extension they will have a hard time folding their little hands and legs into the center of their body while on the back. They might also dislike or be uncomfortable on their tummy. This was the case with Parker.
We showed mom, dad and nanny several games and ways to hold and handle Parker to increase the flexion in the front of his body and melt the tension of his back muscles that were making it almost impossible for him to find ease and comfort on the floor or when nursing. When he returned for his 6-month visit, he was able to hold toys in the middle of his body, fold nicely into mama for feeding and was starting to roll from tummy to back. It is likely that if mom and dad would not have brought him in early on in his development, that arched back would have interfered with his ability to grab and handle an object in front of him and would have certainly made rolling from front to back almost impossible. Holding objects at the center of the body and rolling to both sides are absolutely crucial steps in brain development that impact the ability to read and achieve academically later in life. Parker is fortunate to have parents who brought him in very early on in his development. Indicators such as balanced flexor and extender muscles play a big role in the rest of a baby’s journey through the developmental movement stages, and remember, each movement stage is paired with an aspect of brain development. Babies need to explore each movement stage completely to ensure optimal brain development.