|Babies||Walkers 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Being able to balance is of fundamental importance in young children. Balance begins to develop before birth and continues to develop until adulthood. Without balance, children can’t sit, crawl or stand,, and develop eye movement and vision. Also children with poor balance (or poorly developed vestibular systems) are more likely to have poor attention spans and be easily distracted. Good balance depends on strong back and tummy muscles, so activities to strengthen them are also crucial. The more movement that a baby does the more opportunity there is to build muscle tone, stimulate balance and build the neural connections required for development. For convenience babies spend lots of time in car seats, buggies, bouncy chairs or rockers and this is all wasted time in terms of development of muscle tone, balance and coordination. Movements such as gently swinging, spinning and rocking a baby helps to develop their sense of balance. These exercises are designed to give parents some ideas of physical play that they can share with their child to aid physical development.
- Large beach balls or exercise balls.
- Two to three weeks
How it works
You can select one or two of these exercises to demonstrate and try with the babies each week
What to do in the class
Explain the benefit of each exercise, demonstrate it using Ralph and encourage the parents to try it out with their babies. Always take the babies lead and if they don’t seem happy encourage them stop and rest and maybe try again at a better time.
Rocking on a beach ball
- How: Get a beach ball or an exercise ball, deflate it slightly, place your baby on the ball TUMMY DOWN. While supporting him (you can hold his sides, legs or thighs depending on how well he/she can control her body), roll him back and forth and side to side. You can sing or talk at the same time.
- Why: Strengthens the neck, is good for head control, provides muscle tone development. You can do the same but on his back, this helps his balance reflexes to develop as he will slowly tense his tummy muscles to keep himself balanced
Sitting on a beach ball
- How: Sit the baby on the beach ball, supporting them at the waist. The higher the support the easier it is for the baby, so if they are very young they will need supporting higher up. Gently bounce the baby on the ball and roll from side to side and back and forth.
- Why: Strengthens the tummy and trunk muscles. Also good for head control.
Rotation to sitting
- How: Each time you pick you baby up from Tummy time, you should rotate them to sitting. Gently support the trunk, then rotate around so that the baby is now on their back, then gently use their arms to bring them to a sitting position.
- Why: Strengthens the muscles at the side of the body and also the rotational muscles that are important to smooth disassociated movement.
Pull up to standing
- How: From a seated position gently pull up the baby to a standing position. With babies younger than around 5 months, simply support them under they arms allowing them to feel the sensation of taking some of their weight on their legs.
- Why: Strengthens leg and core muscles. Practice allows babies to both strengthen and coordinate the muscles needed to maintain balance and stability
- How: Parents lay on their backs with their legs bent at a 90 degree angle and legs parallel to the floor. Place the baby tummy down onto your shins with their feet around the parents feet and head extended just over the knees. Hold the babies arms so that they are stable. Move legs gently side to side and back and forth to give the sensation of flying. Obviously take care that the baby does not fall off! Hold the baby in this position for no more than 1 minute at a time.
- Why: Strengthens back, neck and abominable muscles.