Our guest writer and special needs consultant, Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D., shares her tips for encouraging “Tummy Time” in bigger kids.
Most parents have heard and read about the importance of giving infants “tummy time.” Traditionally, we think of this as an activity for babies, that comes along with a whole host of benefits from expanding their social world to strengthening muscles. However, this type of activity has multiple benefits for older children as well. Very often special needs children have low tone or weak muscle groups. Exercises that strengthen muscles can, and should be, both fun and educational at the same time! Without knowing it, older children can work on building strong neck, upper back, shoulder, and trunk muscles by getting in some tummy time!
Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
1) Have children lay on their stomachs to watch their favorite TV show. Holding their head and neck upright while lying down builds and strengthens neck and upper back muscles.
2) Have children lie belly down on a large exercise ball. Keep them engaged by placing a puzzle in front of them. Pull them “back and forth” by their legs and ask them to complete a piece of the puzzle each time. This builds strong muscles of the neck, back, and trunk while also working on fine motor skills of the fingers and hands as well as visual skills of puzzle completion.
3) Have children lie on their stomach and ask them to wiggle and crawl using their elbows to pull them along. (Making this into a race always increases the excitement and fun.)
4) Having children simply lie on the floor on their bellies while completing a floor puzzle or coloring is also a great way to have children working on building muscle while having fun.
5) Lastly, don’t be afraid to get down on the floor with your child! Keeping them engaged and interested makes tummy time a breeze!
Do you practice “Tummy Time” with your bigger kids? Share your tips and techniques in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.
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About Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D:
After studying early childhood education at the American University in Washington, D.C., Dr. Liguori began her career as a classroom teacher in one of the nation’s top school districts, Montgomery County, Maryland. There she fostered an environment where play and learning were synonymous, and her reputation for thinking outside the box when it comes to toys began. Dr. Liguori completed her doctorate in Developmental and Learning Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked at prestigious private schools in New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding suburbs before settling her family and practice in Westport, CT.