Heart Parenting
& Montessori

To educate the heart and mind of the child

International Parenting Association
A 'Montessori' family



Babies have genius potential. A child's
gift of genius is developed through
much nurturing in the home.

Wonderful Child Brain


Mobility - part 2

Understanding brain development
For a broad understanding of the magical science discovered by Glenn Doman, get a copy of his book What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child. Undreamed of progress has been made in treating brain injury but, most importantly, by reading this one book you will arrive at a practical understanding of brain development and be able to launch into all the areas of child brain development, as depicted in the Developmental Profile referred to in Mobility - part 1.

Successfully treating severe brain injury
Glenn Doman actually began his career with children who were brain-injured. He was the world's first brain specialist to successfully treat severe brain injury. It was his unrelenting desire to help the brain-injured that drove him in his quest to study the world's children during the developmental stages which, oddly enough, had never been done before. Doman had turned to the study of unhurt children from many cultures in his effort to find out what normal brain function is and how it occurs.

Rapid or slow progress?
Two questions that we need to ask are, "What determines whether a child’s progress will be rapid or slow, as he moves through the 7 stages of brain development", and, "Is genetics a major factor?? While genetics is always a determining factor, Doman found that opportunity is the key factor that determines how rapidly a child will progress. In fact, IQ is not an issue, at all, with Glenn Doman. Nor was it an issue with Montessori, as her 'idiot' children in the institution she was working in scored normal when they took the standard school tests.

It appears that mankind, made in the image of God, has the capacity for genius! Opportunity brings inherent genius forth, while lack of opportunity is the culprit that aborts it.

Reflexive Response
We begin by asking how do we provide opportunity for a child to develop mobility. Glenn Doman learned by studying newborns that the newborn functions entirely by reflex and has no control of his body movements; he randomly kicks his legs, swings his arms, and clenches his fists. The newborn operates from the medulla portion of his brain, corresponding to Stage I in the Developmental Profile. The medulla and spinal cord control reflexive response. A newborn’s movements are automatic. Movement is not consciously directed and the newborn does not move of his own volition.

If you place an infant on his back you will see that he is helpless and isn’t going anywhere, even though he vigorously kicks his legs and swings his arms. And if you keep him on his back he will not learn to crawl until he first learns to roll over onto his stomach. A child learns to crawl while on his stomach! When it comes to crawling, the infant who is always placed on his back is bound to be behind the one who has ample opportunity to be on his stomach.

I am not saying to never place the baby on his back. After all, if a baby were never on his back, he would not have reason or incentive to strive to overcome his limitations and turn himself over. Learning to turn over is also an important part of brain and physical development.

Accelerate brain development
Doman observed how a newborn learns to crawl, and in the process he found out how we can help accelerate brain development by providing opportunity for a newborn to crawl. A newborn's arms and legs automatically undergo many random or sudden reflex movements. Even though these movements are unintentional, under the right conditions, they can cause the infant's body to move very slightly when he is placed on his stomach. In this way the infant can soon realize that his body can move when his limbs function.

The moment of realization!
Automatic movements involving the whole body can happen often and this ability to move is an extremely important discovery for the infant, because this is the moment of realization, the moment when the infant first spawns the desire to become mobile. And this is the moment when he first makes the determination to gain control of his limbs. The sooner an infant discovers that his body can move, and the easier we make it for him to move his body, the sooner will he be able to master his movements in the medulla, and move-on to stage II in the pons. How long it takes the infant to learn what he needs to learn in Stage I of brain development will depend upon just how much opportunity his parents give him to learn to crawl and the amount of crawling that he does.

Stimulating brain development or hindering mobility?
The question put before us is how can parents give an infant extraordinary opportunity to learn to crawl so that the child will become mobile at an earlier age and be able to do more crawling, which will help him to develop superior physical and mental capabilities—for now we know that crawling stimulates brain development. Consider, however, that a newborn is placed in a bassinet or crib and is covered up with blankets. This arrangement doesn't give him much of a chance to quickly discover mobility. How can a baby learn to move if he is weighed-down with blankets and further restricted by clothing or if he has to encounter so much friction on a mattress that his body can't slide, even if he is placed on his tummy?

The Infant Crawling Track
The answer to this dilemma is the Infant Crawling Track, designed by Glenn Doman, along with the Infant Crawling Mat. The track and mat compliment each other and provide the ideal environment for an infant to quickly discover mobility. By allowing for more crawling, the infant will learn to crawl at an earlier age, which will result in greater brain development.

The crawling track is 6' long and 14'' wide. The sides are 8" high and it is open on both ends. The surface of the track is smooth, making propulsion easier for the newborn.

In an infant track a baby's body is automatically propelled forward or backward when arm and leg reflexes occur. The tiny, accidental movement that is caused by the reflexive response of the limbs can happen frequently in a track, as there is no obstacle or bedding to impede mobility, and the smooth surface of the track promotes sliding.

Because the track is narrow, the infant automatically pushes-off from the sides of the track as leg reflexes occur, giving him a little boost, and this causes his whole body to move in tiny jerking movements. When arms reflex there is a pulling movement helping him along in the track. In an infant track, the infant can soon discover that it is his destiny to become mobile!

Nevertheless, I think it is a bad idea to confine a baby in a track for such a long period of time as to cause him to cry frantically. Crying may be good for the lungs, but forced confinement is not good for the soul. Neither is it good for the developing body. Also, putting the child in the track too often can cause the child to have intense dislike for the track. Doman doesn't seem to think this is a problem, but I do. I agree with providing every opportunity for development, but I disagree with using force.

Infants are accustomed to confinement in the womb and a young infant may even be comforted by being placed in a track. Infant tracks are good for babies developing in Stage I, however, I believe the infant mat is more useful than the track beyond stage I. In my opinion, the most important reason for using an infant track is for the baby to be able to realize at an earlier age that it can become mobile. Once the child has realized this, I think it is better if he is allowed to crawl on his own, and develop muscular ability and strength, rather than being propelled by pushing off of the sides of the track. I believe the same principles should apply as with a baby's learning to walk and that the baby should be allowed to learn to crawl without intervention or further assistance.

I believe a good way to tell when a child has outgrown the usefulness of the track is when the child cries every time you put him in the track. Nevertheless, I am not meaning to suggest, by this, that a child should never be allowed to cry. Sometimes a baby can be frustrated, and there is nothing that a parent can or should do about it –except to allow the baby to express itself and cry it out.

The parent must tune in to the needs of the child and determine if it needs more time in the track and that the cryiing is part of overcoming the obstacles he is confronted with, or if the child has outgrown the track and needs the freedom to crawl on a mat.

The Infant Crawling Mat
The crawling mat is a piece of smooth vinyl, tacked over carpet onto the floor, that will give a baby opportunity to crawl on his own. The main difference between the track and the mat is that the mat does not aid in propulsion, but rather it gives the infant freedom to move in any direction. Whereas the track will only allow forward or backward movement and is restrictive, the mat will allow a baby to make right and left turns and to turn around completely. Babies will turn round-and-round on a mat.

Doman does not see the value of a baby making circling movements. Perhaps that may be a reason why he wants to keep them in tracks for so much of time instead of on the mat.

Planets and stars are all in rotation, and the circling movements of an infant are reflective of the cosmology. Spinning is good for developing brain and balance, and it feels wonderful. Therefore, I don't agree with Glenn Doman when he pooh poohs babies making circling movements and seeks to prevent circling with an infant track.

(It is not the first time I have disagreed with experts on a certain issue –but the main point I want to make is that parents must decide for themselves what is best for their children. I recommend that parents read Doman's book and hear what he has to say. Be he right or wrong about this particular, he's got a lot to offer.)

Nature put the circle pattern in the baby and, certainly, electrons and atoms in the microcosm revolve, and the sun, planets and stars in the macrocosm revolve. Circling aught to be regarded as an essential exercise of motion that is integral to cellular and brain development and that, likewise, needs to come under the conscious control of the individual. An infant should have both a track and a mat if he is to have the best opportunity to become mobile.

Parents play an important role
Parents play an important role while the infant is in his track. Mom and Dad provide encouragement for the baby to crawl.

Placing toys and safe objects in the track or on the mat, out of the baby's reach but not out of his crawling range, is another way to encourage a baby to crawl. Entice him to go after things and when he finally reaches an object let him enjoy it for a while.

Immediately taking it away will frustrate and discourage the baby, which will dampen his eagerness to go after things for you. (Dads are sometimes guilty of this. When the baby reaches the teddy bear, dad backs it up, so the baby has to go after it again.) It's a fun game for dad but not too much fun for baby.

Frequency and duration
It is recommended that the baby be encouraged to crawl at least 10 times daily in stage I. How long a baby should be in the track at any one time is up to the parent, although Glenn Doman has certain recommendations. For however long you decide to keep your child in the track, try using the mat alternately.

A heat source is necessary
Before an infant can use a track, a heat source must be available. Too much clothing will hinder an infant's first learning to crawl. Onezies is the only kind of garment an infant should wear in his track. Bare arms, legs, hands and feet are essential and give an infant the traction he needs to travel along the track's smooth surface. Further dressing and covering of limbs will make these surfaces slippery, however, the baby's body should be clothed because if the baby were naked there would be too much friction for his heavier body to slide.

Heat regulation is a reflex
The medulla controls body temperature, and heat regulation is a reflex. The medulla isn't fully developed at birth, so an infant cannot be in a cool environment without warm clothing. An infant in onezies needs a 90-degree area, which for most locations would require an added heat source. Doman recommends a heat lamp, but be so very careful with this to avoid burning the baby's skin. You could try heating one small room, or area that you could close off in your house, to 90-degrees without using a heat lamp directly over the baby's body. Over a period of time you can drop the temperature down, and it doesn't take too long before the baby can be comfortable in room temperature. However, if you do use a heat lamp, keep it far enough away from the baby to be safe. Be sure, test it very carefully.

Elevating the infant track
At times, an infant track can be slightly elevated at one end so that it will slant. Crawling on a slight downgrade is easier than crawling on a flat surface. This is especially good for the young infant who needs all the help he can get. If the infant is very young the slant should be very slight, just enough to make crawling easier, but not so steep that it will make the baby slide and frighten him. Try to determine what the smallest incline would be that could result in a tiny bit of forward motion from reflexive movements.

Crawling mastery
It is not until the infant has mastered the reflex response in the medulla and has gained some degree of control over his limbs that he enters Stage II of brain development, where he actually learns to crawl. The infant track is beneficial to the baby in Stage I. The crawling mat is good to use in Stage II. The area associated with the brain in Stage II is called the pons. In stage II a baby moves his body at will though his belly remains flat on the floor. Since crawling is a conscious activity, an infant no longer functions purely by reflex in stage II as he did in stage I. He will have developed initial control over his movements and his limbs.

Making an infant crawling track
In Doman's BOOK you will find a set of carpenter's plans. You can make an infant crawling track yourself or have a carpenter make one for you. You can also make a crawling mat by covering your carpet with vinyl and tacking it to the floor. In order to insure the health of your family, especially your baby on the floor, carpeting should be environmentally safe and not be out-gassing.

continued...       Mobility - part 3

RETURN TO Wonderful Child Brain


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