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Belly Time Helpers

Occupational Therapy Recommendations

Increase use hands and overall fine motor skills

*When a child crawls on their palms and is weight bearing through their arms and hands, this is the beginning of motor coordination, fine motor development, and strengthening and development of the small muscles in the hands.

If a child does not weight bear on their palms with the fingers spread and wrists extended then they often have difficulty with fine motor control as evidenced by poor or delayed grasp and release skills, pre-writing and scissor skills, in hand manipulation of small objects, and many other fine motor skills.

Crawling (on belly) and creeping (on hands and knees) is also the first time that the two hemispheres of the brain communicate between each other, if the crawling or creeping stage is shortened by infant walkers, too much standing or walking, or too much time in a playpen or Johnny jumper, then the child often has difficulties with learning to read, write, and do math later in life.

As you can tell, the crawling stage is one of the most important stages, do not rush your child to walk or stand too early!

The best way to encourage more use of the hand is to incorporate it into the child's learning through PLAYTIME in the FLOOR!

Sensory motor experiences are very important before sitting down to concentrate on higher learning tasks such as prewriting, fine motor skills, and self-help. The following are some ways to help increase proximal stability, muscle tone, and sensory motor skills:

For the child having difficulty even remaining on their belly, try to encourage belly tolerance by just carrying the child in a "football" hold with their head down and you hold them under their chest and pelvis. You can gently swing them side to side in this position as well. Try to carry them in this prone position as much as possible.

Next, try to lay them over your lap when playing on the couch or in the floor with a stimulating toy or brother or sister to entertain them while they are over your lap or leg playing.

Next, try a large ball and with a warm towel from the dryer over the ball, lay them over the ball with a fun toy on the opposite side and you holding behind them. This is a fun game with two people, one holding behind and one in front, or in front of a mirror then the child sees themself coming towards the mirror. Rock the child on their tummy gently over the ball. You can work up to them catching themselves on the floor with hands wt. bearing, then pushing back later on.

Then try different pillows, rolled up towels under their chest to help them stay on their belly.

There are a lot of toys on the market to help stimulate belly time, request these for holidays!  Babies love mirrors so getting a safe floor mirror they can look at can really help on their tummy time mat. 

Once the child tolerates the belly position, then start encouraging pushing up on hands, open hands with wrist extended is optimal!

Again, use the pillows, therapy ball, towel rolls, and toys to help them weight shift from side to side to reach to play.

Next, help them to rock on hands and knees by supporting her hips, their arms should straighten to support themselves. Rock forward and back, then side to side, and then diagonally.

Then, once child is maintaining an all fours position, help them to lift up an opposite leg, you may need to put support under their tummy with your hand or a towel.

Once creeping on their own, encourage creeping over pillows and your legs to strengthen. 

If your precious one is not creeping by 10-11 months, please request an OT evaluation so we can help them acheive this vital stage of development. 

Other ideas:

  • perform weight bearing activities through palms of hands; crawling or creeping towards a toy, remaining in all fours and weight shifting to play with a toy, creeping or crawling over pillows, rolled up blankets, or legs of siblings or parents, rolling on belly over a ball and catching the floor, then pushing up and back away from the floor, then walking out on hands off the ball, rolling to one side or the other and getting up by pushing off of hands with arms extended, pushing boxes while on knees, lying on belly in the floor as much as possible to play with toys, and use tunnels and different textures to creep through and under and over.

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AOTA belly time helpers

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