Why Babies Love to Be in Motion

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Let's do a short exercise together for a moment.  Close your eyes and imagine you are floating in the center of a large swimming pool.  This is an imagination exercise so let's imagine you can breathe just fine under water as well.  You are surrounded by liquid on all sides - nothing but fluid, flowing, unrestricted, boundless liquid.  How do you feel?  Weightless?  Light?  Free?  Can you feel motion and currents of the water?

Now let's think of a womb with a tiny baby inside of it.  The womb, like that swimming pool is full of liquid, and the tiny baby floats in the center of all that fluidity.  The biggest difference between you floating in a swimming pool and a baby floating in a womb is that the swimming pool always remains stationary.  It never gets up and moves around with you floating in it.  A womb, on the other hand, is anything but stationary.  A baby, who spends nine whole months living and growing inside a fluid-filled womb becomes accustomed to his or her constantly moving environment.  The fluids inside the womb move when the mother moves, when she breathes, when she walks or exercises, when she stands up, sits down or lies down flat.  After nine months of floating in constant movement it is only natural that a baby would emerge into a strange and unfamiliar world and crave the familiar comforts of motion.  Movement is one of the most familiar elements to a new baby and so provides great comfort.

Rocking, swinging, bouncing - these are all very familiar elements to a baby in the womb so remain familiar and comforting while out of the womb as well.  In fact I think most adults would agree they are still comforting.  How many homes are equipped with swings on their porches, hammocks in the back yard or a rocking chair in the living room?   Motion remains such a soothing element of life that I know I still have trouble sustaining consciousness when traveling as a passenger for long periods in a car or slowly rocking train.

Babies love motion for the same reasons they love being held close to your heart where they can hear the familiar drum of a heart beat.  Have you ever found yourself in an unfamiliar situation?  Perhaps you traveled to another country or attended a social gathering or tried a new activity that just didn't seem to click or make sense to you.  Can you recall that sense of being out of your element and craving the comforts of home; the comforts of the familiar?  The world itself is a new and unfamiliar place to babies.  Every day they are exposed to more and more information and I can only imagine how overwhelming it must all seem to them.  It seems only natural that they too would crave the familiar comforts of their former homes.

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Posted on Dec 17, 2008