Saturday, 18 December 2010

Baby dancing... one day

One of the great things about being snowed under and cut off from the world is that your mail gets delivered in piles. Once a week, true, but so many goods at the same time. Diana Suskind's wonderful book 'Baby dancing' arrived on the same day as The Pikler Bulletin, so all of us had something to read that day.

Letting our babies develop naturally, on their own terms and in their own pace requires tremendous patience, and a whole lot of letting go. Letting go of our expectations might be the hardest of it all, it is, after all, impossible not to have expectations when it comes to just about anything in life. But this kind of letting go has taught me to enjoy every moment much more, as I am not busy waiting for the next step.

It's intersting how we often want things right now, and loose everything that happens on the way - the whole amazing journey. We noticed recently the same applies to babies, and so many of the conversations about them involve the 'what my baby can already do' element. I don't know how many times in the past two weeks I've had to answer the question: 'Can he sit up yet?'. Well, no, but you know look - he can roll, bend his legs like this, laugh when he hides under the blanket... 'Oh, that's ok, he should be able to sit up soon, don't worry'. You know, I'm not at all worried. He'll probably (although hopefully not) spend too much time sitting in his whole adult life, I'm kind of glad he's not doing it now...

My husband has an interesting theory about why that is - he says motor development is the only area where we can have control over our babies' milestones. You can't force the baby to say his first word, but you can sit him up. And with so little information out there, that you can do things otherwise, I'm not surprised people do. We did. With all the reading about motor development somehow I ended up thinking that once our son is six months old he will sit up. Just like that, as if by magic, on the day he turns six months we will wake up and there he will be in his bed, sitting (I'm not even going to admit to all the bouncer and high-chair beliefs we had).

Here is what Emmi Pikler says about motor development: 'Let us not force the infant. Let us provide well for her, but let us not disturb the slow, steady process that has its own rhythm and course with every child. Every healthy child will get from the lying position on the back to walking freely. The period of time may vary, but it will alway happen in correlation with that child's physical and mental constitution, that child's limbs and use of moveability as far as possible.'

When my husband and I were travelling in Asia for a few months, we visited so many breathtaking places it's hard to count. But my clearest memories are not those places we ended up in, but the journey there. How we got lost, how we couldn't get a ride fo hours in the rain, how we had to sit on the back of a truck full of piglets... and I know my son will one day sit, stand up, walk, run and dance, whether I help him or not. But I want his body to have a chance to go through the entire journey. I want him to enjoy every moment of the ride, because once he gets there he's there, this part of the journey is over. And I want him to be ready to be there.


  1. This is simply beautiful. I am so enjoying reading about the journey you and your husband are taking with your baby. And I love that you are allowing your baby to experience his own journey, in his own time, and his own way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  2. Wow, I just found this post and it's amazing. You and your husband are so wise, your boy -- so lucky! By the way, 6 months is when pediatricians often suggest sitting a baby up, but it is not the average age for a baby to sit up independently. 7-10 months for that feat, in my experience. And it's well worth the wait to see the expression on a child's face when he suddenly sits himself up. You have many lovely surprises in store for you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to a blessed family!