Neurological Growth Opportunities for Infants


By Richard Kieninger


What happens in the first six years of life is what is really important. The earlier that neurological stimulation occurs the better it is. Do not wait until age 2 to start doing good things for your child in terms of positive stimulation. Do not wait until they are one year old. Start right away—not a great deal of brain growth occurs after age seven.


Babies immediately after birth need to be stroked and held and looked at and to allow them to look back. If you look at a ten-day old baby, he will look right back into your eyes. There is something very special about that sort of thing, and they love looking at you—especially into your eyes.


Babies need encouragement in everything all the time and a lot of stimula­tion in every area. Physical stroking relieves many tensions that must result from the Ego trying to make a body move in ways that he hasn’t been able to train that body to move yet. It is extremely frustrating to be in an infant body and not be able to talk or express yourself. Any method that relieves stress is very valuable. You cannot learn very well while you are in a stressed state regardless what age you are. Being in a state of anxiety means that whatever you are learning at the time from your experiences, will not be learned well. Fortunately, there are many therapies that can relieve muscular tensions and anxieties later in life.


Learning how to achieve your emotional needs is part of the growing-up process, and children who have received beautiful parenting do not have to struggle much to achieve emotional maturity. The world is their oyster, and they relate to other people in very benign and beautiful ways.


In order to have a great civilization, we need to teach people how to deal properly with babies and infants. It takes a lot of work on the part of the parents. But if they love that work, then it’s no real work at all. However it’s very, very time consuming, and parents have other things to do. It is nice if a new mother while dealing with her child can have aunties or grandmother or somebody around to help take care of some of the routines like scrubbing the floors and washing the clothes and making meals. Babies do sleep every so often and can be put to bed, but the best thing is to have the baby strapped to mother’s front so they can enjoy each other’s intimate company while daily activities are carried out—particularly with the baby’s bare skin against the mother’s bare skin. The baby seems to benefit from this closeness even when asleep while mother is moving about.


Baby also needs plenty of time to crawl and creep freely on the floor and explore the house to get optimum stimulation of neurological and motor develop­ment. When mother is asleep, there needs to be a roomy, safe place for the baby to move around.


There is an ancient saying that you have to creep before you can walk. We now felt safe in saying that you have to crawl on your belly before you can creep on hands and knees and that you have to learn how to move your arms and legs in the air before you can move them for crawling purposes.


We became firmly convinced that no well child ever missed a stage along this road, and we became convinced of this despite the fact that mothers some­times reported that their children did not creep. However, when such a mother was asked, “Mother, do you mean that this child simply lay in his crib or pushed himself on the floor until one day he jumped to his feet and then walked?” Mother generally reconsidered and allowed as how the child had crept for a short period of time. While there was no way to travel this road without passing each and every milepost, there was indeed a difference in time factors. Some children would spend ten months in the crawling stage and two months in the creeping stage while other children spent two months in the crawling stage and ten months in the creeping stage. However, always these four significant stages occurred in the same sequence.


Along the ancient road there were no detours for the well child. So convinced did the team become of this that we also became convinced of two other factors.

First, we became convinced that if an otherwise well child were to miss, for any reason, any stage along this road, that child would not be normal and would not learn to walk until given the opportunity to complete the missed stage. We were persuaded, and we still are, that if one took a well child and suspended him by some sort of sling device in midair when he was born and fed him and cared for him until he was eighteen months of age and then place that child on the floor and said, “Walk, because you’re eighteen months of age and this is the age at which children walk,” that the child would, in fact, not walk, but would instead first move arms, legs, and body; second, crawl; third, creep; and fourth and last, walk—and that, therefore, this was not a mere chronology of events but instead was a planned road in which each step was necessary to the subsequent step.


Second, we became convinced that if any of these basic stages were merely slighted, rather than wholly skipped, as for example in the case of a child who had begun to walk before he had crept enough, there would be adverse consequences such as poor coordination, failure to become wholly right-handed or wholly left-handed, failure to develop normal hemispheric dominance in matters of speech, failure in reading and spelling, etc. Crawling and creeping, it began to appear, were essential stages in the programming of the brain, stages in which the two hemispheres of the brain learned how to work together.


To this day we are convinced that when we have seen a child who did not go through each of the major stages in the order in which they are listed, however briefly they may have remained in a stage, we have seen a child who later on gave evidence of having a major or a minor neurological problem.


Now we had our first piece of certain knowledge. We knew what normal was, at least so far as mobility went. The next step would obviously be to determine how this piece of knowledge could be used to the benefit of the brain-injured child.




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