As human beings, each developmental stage plays an important role in developing both body and brain. During the first seven years of a child’s life, the child goes through several necessary milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing, and walking.  Each of these milestones is necessary in completing stages of development to create a strong foundation. 

Starting in utero, where the baby is already developing her first senses and reflex movements, the pregnant mother moves about, helping her unborn baby develop both the sense of body awareness and the sense of balance.  

When born vaginally, a child travels through the birth canal, activating early reflexes by the deep pressure massage, stimulating nerves, and giving the child its first sense of self. Working closely with the proprioceptive sense, developing the sense of touch starts here – a sense allowing us to establish boundaries, interact with the external world, connect with other human beings, and giving us the sense of where we end and the outer world begins.  It is good to be aware that children born through a  c-section often tend to seek and need more body awareness input. 

Upon birth, the baby goes into a full extension of their body: arms, hands, and legs extending out.  She has a quick intake of breath, freezes momentarily, and then totally contracts into a fetal position, releasing her breath, often resulting in a cry.  This cry is important because it helps clear out her lungs, giving them a kick start, and allowing the baby to breathe. Then she’s swaddled, kept warm, and held close – giving her a sense of well-being in her new environment. When her cheek rubs up against something, she immediately starts to root around for a source of food.  Once she finds the nipple, her sucking reflex is engaged.

Earlier movements help free our bodies, readying them for more complex movements and tasks. Once we learn to stand up and walk, the whole world is opened up to us and new movements are explored. 

One of my mentors likes to say, “You can’t make a flower grow by pulling on it.” Imagine if we hadn’t learned to stand; we certainly couldn’t learn to jump. We must provide the appropriate support and time so that our children will not only grow, but they’ll be able to fully blossom into their full potential.

Hannah Freed has been a classroom teacher and remedial specialist for 25 years. She currently runs a private practice helping both children and adults integrate and regulate mind and body.  Learn more at