Below I am sharing information from a friend and former colleague, Stacy Menz, PT, who so kindly agreed to guest post on my blog. I learned so much from her about physical development and how core strength is vital to support the areas we SLP’s treat (i.e. feeding, swallowing, and speech). I was so happy she agreed to guest post and share her expertise in pediatric physical therapy.
Core strength is so important for control with feeding. Here are 4 ways you can help your baby get stronger!
1. Tummy Time – You are all probably sick of this phrase but it really helps with core strength as well as head and neck control. How well your baby tolerates tummy time will guide you on what exercises and for how long. For little ones that struggle with it you want to start with very short bouts. When they start to fuss try to get just a few more seconds in before picking up or repositioning. Really engaging with them while they are on their belly helps to make this easier and more enjoyable. Starting with them lying on your chest with you in a slightly reclined position is a really great way to start! This post has 5 ways to make tummy time a success.
2. Pull to Sit – Baby sit-ups are the way to go! Have them lie on their back while you hold their hands and help them to pull on your hands to get into a sitting position. You want to make sure they are engaging their arms and their belly and their head. For babies that have a hard time with this, start with them in a sitting position and hold their hands while slowly lowering them down to their back. If you have a pillow or a Boppy behind them it is helpful. This post has a video that shows how to do this activity.
3. Sitting – Even before your baby is sitting up on their own, you can use sitting to help them get stronger. If they are sitting on your lap, you can make sure that you aren’t doing all the work for them by supporting them at the trunk with a soft grip so that they have your support but are still having to use their muscle to stay upright. You can play ‘horsey’ by having them sit on your lap and giving little bounces! Here is a post that gives a few ideas.
4. Hand and Foot Play – This is great for kids to explore their body as well as stretch their hamstrings after being in the fetal position for so long. In addition, it also gives the abs a workout! Encourage your little one to bring their feet up to their hands. You can make it interesting by helping them to hold their hands and feet together and sing songs or clap with hands and feet. And just remember, the Happy Baby yoga pose came from somewhere! This post has some other benefits as well.
For more information or to find Stacy Menz, PT, DPT, PCS, you can visit her website at www.starfishtherapies.com