Supine development: Will at 6 days

This is the first of a series of 4 posts on development in supine.

Each  post will be available for 2 weeks. The full range of tutorials is available to TOMT subscribers Read more 


Opportunities to lie in supine on a firm flat surface provide very young infants with their first experience of linking sensory input to motor actions as a first step towards voluntary goal directed actions seen just a few weeks later. 

In this way the spontaneous movements seen in the newborn create the substrate for development of differentiated limb actions, linking visual regard and UE actions,  and stimulate postural stabilization of the head and trunk to support voluntary limb movements. 

Periods of activity and periods of relative calm
In the video clip you see Will alternating periods of active head turning and limb movements, interspersed by short periods lying quietly. 

Here you see him quietening his movements as he takes time to pay attention to his hand that has moved into his field of vision. 

W 7d supine notices hand 1.jpg

Head position and upper extremity (UE) actions

During periods of alert wakefulness Will moves his his UE's through many different positions in an almost continuous flow of movement. His head is mostly turned to the right, but sometimes to the left. 

W 7d supine UE movements 1.jpg   W 7d supine UE movements 2.jpg   W 7d supine UE movements 3.jpg   W 7d LE actions 3.jpg    W 7d supine UE movements 5.jpg     W 7d supine UE positions 1.jpg

Lower extremity (LE) actions 

At six days the newborn  physiological flexion contracture exerts a strong influence on Will's LE postures and his kicking actions. 

He maintains his hips in a degree of flexion and abduction, with the knees flexed and ankles in dosiflexion. His feet are lifted up off the floor.

From time to time he lowers the feet towards the floor, decreasing the hip flexion. At other times he extends one, or both knees, but the ankles remain in dorsiflexion. 

W 7d LE actions 1.jpg   W 7d LE actions 2.jpg   W 7d LE actions 3.jpgW 7d LE actions 4.jpg    

During periods of relative quiet the amount of hip flexion decreases, but the feet still do not rest on the supporting surface. 

W 7d LE actions 7.jpg   W 7d supine UE postures.jpg

Rolling to the side 

You also see Will rolling onto the left side and remaining in this position for an extended period of tome.

The rolling action is preceded by head turning and at the same time bringing both hands forwards towards the face. This shift the weight to the left and results and "tips" Will onto his side. 

W 7d LE roll to left 1.jpg   W 7d LE roll to left 2.jpg   W 7d LE roll to left 3.jpg   W 7d LE roll to left 4.jpg


Video: Will at 6 days 

Suggestions for watching the video

In this video you see Will constantly on the move,with arms upper and lower extremities moving at the same time. I find it helps to watch one aspect of his movement at a time, play it through observing his UE movements, then another time observing the LE movements, and a third time getting a more general impression. 




Will supine at 5 weeks 

At 5 weeks Will has developed more control of his upper and lower extremity actions and his ability to stabilize the head and trunk to support these actions has improved.

He has also learned to integrate contact with the support surface (SS) into his postural control strategies. 

W 5w swipe 5.jpg

Will alert and lying quietly and postural sway

In the first section of the video clip you see Will lying quietly. His UEs and feet are resting on the SS.

This period of quiet lying allows one to observe the postural sway present in the trunk. These exploratory movement allows the postural system to gather the sensory information needed for estimating the position of the body as a whole. Read more

In this quiet period the right upper arm comes to rest on the SS and the continuous lateral sway of the trunk provides changing contact between the upper arm and the SS. 

Will is also exploring the contact between his feet and the SS, and between each other. This exploration is important for developing the infant's ability to use surfaces to support their actions. 

W 5w quiet moment 1.jpg

Period of vigorous movement 
During a period vigorous movement the UEs repeated flex and extend. 

          W 5w vigourance movement 5.jpg   W 5w vigourance movement 9.jpg

You also see repeated single right LE kicking actions, alternating with bilateral hip and knee flexion. 

W 5w vigourance movement 13.jpg   W 5w vigourance movement 8.jpg   W 5w vigourance movement 2.jpg

From time to time the feet push down on the SS and this is associated with head and trunk extension and lateral weight shift to the right. 

W 5w vigourance movement 10.jpg   W 5w vigourance movement 1.jpg


Video: Will 5 weeks supine 


Will watching and swiping at a toy

In the next video clip you see Will looking and swiping at a dangled toy.

The swiping movements are fast and generate perturbing forces that impact on the head and trunk. He has developed the ability to stabilize the head and trunk to counteract these internally generate destabilizing forces, with the assistance of counter pressure of the contralateral UE and the ipsilateral foot against the SS. 

In the beginning of the clip you see Will quieten his movements and focus his visual attention on a set of rings dangled within arms reach. He then makes several swiping actions which bring his hand into contact with the ring. 

W 5w focus on toy.jpg   W 5w swipe.jpg

Watch out for the series of  clearly executed swipes seen in the latter half of the clip. 

I dangle the rings a little too far away - he looks at them with interest but does not reach for them. 

W 5w swipe 1.jpg

As soon as I move the rings to a place within his reach he starts to make swiping actions in their direction.

Notice how he uses downward pressure of the left UE and right heel on the SS to help to stabilize the trunk as he moves his arm. 

W 5w swipe 2.jpg   W 5w swipe 3.jpg

Also notice how he manages to bring his hand into contact with the rings from two completely different start positions.

This shows clearly that he is able to transform visual information about the position of the toy in external space (external coordinates) into a set of motor commands that takes the initial position of the hand into account. 

W 5w swipe 4.jpg   W 5w swipe 5.jpg

W 5w swipe 6.jpg  W 5w swipe 7.jpg


For subscribers  Read more 

More about Will at 5 weeks: Video clips of Will sitting, in prone, and his ability for social interaction. 

Follow on Facebook 



Join the conversation
Please share your thoughts and ideas with the us. Have I missed something important? Do you agree with my analysis?