Variability, learning to balance in prone kneeling and early crawling

This is the first in a series of three articles in response to a question posed by Mindy: Why do kids bunny hop? See also:
What abilities are needed for reciprocal crawling
Infants who bunny hop need to acquire more variable patterns of movement 


In a Wired on Development Facebook post Mindy Silva asked the following question: Why do kids bunny hop?

Mindy goes on as follows: "So a post on another group page got me thinking about all the different components you might want to address for a child who is bunny hopping."  Mindy provides a list of possible components that need to be addressed.

My immediate response was: No, no, no!  The adoption of a bilateral hip and knee flexion pattern (bunny hopping) reflects the infant's best solution tot the challenge of moving forwards in prone kneeling given the available movement resources.  

So back to Mindy's question: Why do kids bunny hop?

Working, as I do, from a dynamic systems, constraints led approach to movement analysis and intervention, I decided that I first needed to review how a typically developing infant learns to transition to prone kneeling and then adopt a reciprocal crawling pattern. 

The answer to this question is not surprising. Infants explore many possible options for achieving their goals. And variability in their actions allows them to discover the most efficient ways to achieve their goals. 

This principle is nicely illustrated in the video clip below which shows Will at 7 months exploring different options for maintaining balance in prone kneeling, as he attempts to lift one hand to play with a toy. 

W 6m transition to prone kneeling 1.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 2.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 3.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 4.jpg      W 6m transition to prone kneeling 6.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 7.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 8.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 9.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 10_2.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 11.jpg   W 6m transition to prone kneeling 12.jpg    W 6m transition to prone kneeling 13.jpg 


Video clip: Will exploring options for balancing in prone kneeling


Video clip: Will learning to crawl over a period of 2 months

In this clip you see how Will practices and learns to transition to prone kneeling, explore balance his balance in this position and eventually crawl forwards. 



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