One thing that has surprised me about being a parent is how fascinating babies can be. Don’t get me wrong, by the time bedtime rolls around it seems way past due, but I can spend so much time just watching Ender puzzle out the world. Even when it seems like there isn’t much going on, he’s working on putting it all together.
The most recent observation on my mind is the question of why Ender is not crawling yet. I don’t mean in terms of hitting milestones — Ender is 6 months old which is still early to be crawling. I just mean the physical and mental hurdles that are keeping him stuck like an overturned turtle.
Pediatricians stress the importance of tummy time because it allows babies to develop the muscles they need to crawl, and eventually walk. Supposedly they develop the necessary muscles around 6-10 months. It seems like the going theory is that as soon as they are strong enough, they up and start crawling, but I have my doubts.
Ender is STRONG. He was born able to hold his head up for short periods of time (and peck us like a bird, mouth agape, when he wanted to be fed) and support his own weight with his legs. The first time I laid him on his tummy, about a month and a half, he rolled over. Which is NOT to say he rolled over early. I count his real rolling over somewhere between 3 and 4 months. At a month and a half he had NO idea what he was doing, he was just angry to be on his tummy and flailed his way back onto his back.
My point is that I don’t think strength is what is keeping him from crawling. I may be wrong. He could sit with support — I thought just balance — for a long time before he was able to sit unassisted, and he was quite shaky at first. He would sort of gradually lean forward until he was almost on his tummy with his legs out next to his head (which, btw, he really did NOT like). So apparently his back muscles weren’t as developed as I thought they were. And maybe now, they still aren’t as developed as I think they are. Nonetheless, I think there’s something else going on.
A baby has no understanding of perspective. There is no near and far. There is just, I dunno, here? And not here? In my hand, (or usually in Ender’s case, mouth) or want it in my hand? It must take a lot of new brain power to understand the concept of traveling, because from the baby’s perspective, objects move to them. Or they don’t. True, much of a baby’s life is being carried from one place to another, but since the baby exerts no effort to get there, since they have no control over where they go, it is as if their entire environment is one big object being turned and brought to them.
So when you think about it, crawling is quite a leap. Even reaching is a leap. We think it’s lack of hand-eye coordination that prevents small infants from grasping objects (and obviously that is the main issue) but maybe part of it is that it just doesn’t occur to the baby that an object CAN be effected by their hands, maybe a baby needs to concentrate over months and months to understand that they have the power to move themselves from one object to the other.
Ender is not quite there yet. He is trying, oh so hard to crawl, but he just doesn’t quite get how it works. I have no idea if the motion is instinctive, or if he’s imitating other babies he’s seen at Story Time, but he makes quite convincing swim-crawl motions with all four limbs that do absolutely nothing to help him. They are so convincing that I can’t quite see why they AREN’T moving him. He’s probably further frustrated by the fact that in his crib, he gets all over the place, assisted by having walls to kick off of from every direction. I’m not even sure if, in his baby brain, the movement has a purpose, if he thinks it will move him, or if it’s just a Pavlovian response to wanting something out of reach.
My favorite motion, and I’m pretty sure this is a legitimate intentional attempt to move, is his inch-worm. This is the most hilariously ineffective thing I’ve ever seen.
He does this mostly when we put him on the bed, I have no idea why, and he doesn’t necessarily do it to try to get anywhere in particular, it’s like he’s really just practicing. First he kicks his legs about for a while, like he’s trying to remember what to do with them.
Then he bunches them up under his belly, and squishes into a potato bug like ball. Sometimes he falls over at this point. Next, he sort of straightens his legs and pushes his butt way up into the air. He falls over even more often at that point. Often enough though, he balances, perched on the verge of motion.
But no. He only makes it halfway. Once he gets his butt in the air, he seems to think he’s accomplished his goal. Rather than pushing forward, or even slumping, or falling, or sliding slowly forward, his legs SHOOT back out and he ends up right where he started.