The Big Picture

The Little Gym Blog
The fact that as adults, some of us have great balance and some not so great, is not just the ‘luck of the draw’. It is, in most cases, a result of the ‘vestibular stimulation’ we received as babies and young children.

By providing a baby with appropriate vestibular activities, a parent can help lay the foundation for a lifetime of excellent coordination and balance early on. It has been proven that movement activities that stimulate vestibular development help a baby’s brain and body to develop in an amazing number of ways!

The vestibular system is an important part of a child’s body. It is a system of tiny organs in a child’s inner ear that provides their brain with information about where they are in space — up or down, sideways, etc.

Babies and toddlers need opportunities for movement exploration to develop their ability to crawl, pull up to a stand, cruise and walk. They also need opportunities to develop their vestibular system for activities like dance, gymnastics and more!

Here are 5 easy ways to help your child develop their vestibular system

Keep on Rocking

From a young age, encourage your child to explore different movements by rocking side to side, front to back, on a balance board, in a rocking chair, or by standing up and holding hands with a grown up to rock along to their favourite song!

Let it Slide

Sliding down a slide quickly (and trying to stay sitting upright) is a great activity that provides spatial input, as well as engaging the core.

Hang Out

– Prioritise activities that get your child upside down: stand up and hold your child facing you, and then give them a slow dip backward and then back up.

– Hang from monkey bars or rings, put hands down and jump feet up in a donkey kick

– Try a mini handstand against a wall with hands on the ground and one (or both) feet up on the wall.

Put a Spin on It

Spinning is another great way for your child to get in touch with their vestibular system:

– Twirl around

– Play Ring Around the Rosy — go round and round until you get dizzy and fall down!

– Try tumbling (forward rolls, log rolls) and cartwheel-like movements such as monkey jumps (hands down and both feet jump to the right or to the left).

Find Balance

Help your child engage their vestibular system by practising balance with the following activities:

– Walking on a curb or line (or a balance beam!).

– Walk on the couch cushions or across a bed.

– Balance across an obstacle course or try some stretches or yoga poses.