The balance system is located deep within the inner ear. A well-developed balance systemforms the basis for healthy brain and body connections. Stimulation of this system is needed in order for baby to be able to cope successfully with gravity. Activities that cause this stimulation are essential for the inhibition of primitive reflexes and development of balance. They will impact on development of posture, movement, and a sense of position in space, motion, depth and self. Rocking and rolling movements can contribute to the development of balance. Studies show that infants given regular vestibular stimulation in the first few months of life show accelerated development in motor skills as a result of increased sensory stimulation.
- Cradle the baby in a cellular blanket with a person holding either end of the blanket. Now sway very gently and slowly from side to side. The slower the better. This slow movement will get the fluid in the inner ear moving which will in turn activate and stimulate the balance system. You may even find that he/she is soothed and calmed and may even fall asleep during this.
- Put your baby in a seated position holding them securely under their arms. Rock him/her from side to side, gently and slowly and make sure not to go more than a 45 degree angle. This will help to develop the muscles in the neck and shoulders while causing the fluid in the inner ear to move and stimulate the balance system.
- A variation on this is while in the same position as above rock your baby forward and backwards. Very gently and slowly and not more than a 45 degree angle. You may need to adjust your grip slightly to support baby at the front and back. Be mindful of supporting their head, the aim is to get them to support their own head but if they cannot do this then you will need to, until they can.
- A floor time rock & roll session when your baby is lying on his/her back will also provide good stimulation for the balance system and will provide some movements that help to inhibit primitive reflexes. Hold the baby’s hands and gently rock him/her from side to side, the head will turn accordingly. Do not turn them more than 45 degrees.
- As your baby gets bigger and older introduce plenty of rough and tumble play, not just for the boys. It gives so much stimulation to the brain and plays a huge role in building your baby’s brain.
Ollwyn Moran is a trained Neurological Developmental Therapist and the founder of Creeper Crawlers, a revolutionary children’s clothing brand best known for its Easy Grip Crawl Suit. Made from 100% cotton and free of harsh chemical dyes, the patent-pending and award-winning Easy Grip Crawl Suit provides developmental benefits for babies ages 6-24 months. Learn more about Creeper Crawlers here.