In previous posts we have talked about the moro reflex, which activates three things in your neurology. arousal which matures up to attention and perception. it also activates the sympathetic nervous system. This reflex turns on around nine weeks of pregnancy and is expected to be integrated after the 4th month of the birth of your baby.One of the other components that I wanted to highlight is the balance between CO2 and 02.
The balance between CO2 and 02 is important because we do have a state of fear that many people believe that babies have a higher risk of smothering themselves when they are sleeping. I want you to understand this reflex system because if your baby has developed correctly, and you bring them to somebody like me where I do developmental assessments, I can tell you if your baby is developing in the right direction. Then you don’t have to fear that something is going to happen to your baby.
What we want to look at is if the nervous system is functioning correctly and this reflex is doing what it is supposed to do. With any sudden change in the baby’s environment they are going to startle. They will be stimulated by sound. They will be stimulated by smell. They will be stimulated by sight, touch, and level of oxygen. They are interpreting this all within their environment reflexively. This is not a sensory motor component.
It is a misunderstanding to believe that children can only sleep on their back. When you put a baby on their back you are actually putting too much repetitive stress on the back of their heads. This is why many babies have a flat head. Some of these babies might even have to wear a helmet to help reshape their heads. Babies heads are actually meant to be more like a piece of rotisserie chicken. Lay them on their backs for one sleep, lay them on their sides for another sleep, lay them on their stomachs for another sleep. They need to have the stimulation of moving around, never laying in just one position.
If we force babies to lay on their backs, we restrict the movements that babies are intended to have. So if our fear is forcing movement restriction on our baby, we are changing how their mechanical system is going to work. Many times I have parents tell me that their baby doesn’t like to lay on their belly, this a misconception. Babies need to be on their belly. Their belly is where they begin to communicate with their own center of gravity. There are reflexes that are meant to be stimulated by putting a baby on their belly. They also need to be able to get their arms underneath their bellies and get their head up. If they cannot do that, they will change how their neurological system is communicating from their body via their spinal cord and up into their brain.
Your body is like an antenna to your brain and babies need to move. This is going to help get the sequence of events needed to get your child into a crawling posture which is where their brain is going to learn to communicate from both sides. Later they will be able to pull themselves up and start to explore walking. Every single one of the things that or children go through, called motor milestones, they need to go through because they act like steps to go over a bridge to make one connection to another in order for your child’s nervous system to mature in that expected place.
When we look at children those are the things were are looking at. Did their developmental milestones come on at the right time and integrate as expected? Then that child’s neurology is off to the right start!