Why the floor is your baby’s first playground
Babies learn everything through play and interaction with others, themselves and their environments. In order for babies to strengthen not only their physical bodies, but their fine motor skills (skills coordinating the hands and fingers), gross motor skills (skills coordinating larger body parts mainly the limbs), problem solving skills, visual perceptual skills (ability to make sense of the information we receive through are eyes – more than just seeing), and sensory processing skills (registering and accurately interpreting sensory input from the environment and from the body itself).
Exploring through play and in essence play is all about movement, babies are born with limited coordination and a lot of movements are reflex based (which help the birth process and at as a protective mechanism). As your baby learns to explore through movement higher functioning postural reflexes can start to take over which helps your baby build the connections between their brains and body, helping them to learn where their limbs are in relation to one another, how their bodies can move, the cause and effect moving their body has, learning to judge distances, and how to grade or adjust their movements dependent on the activity, understanding that objects are separate, or can create a whole. Exploring through movement helps to practice coordination and isolation of body parts, it also helps to support the development of the skeletal system, such as the spine and its natural curves.
In our western society babies and children are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Babies spend more time in “containers” than ever before – car seats, buggies, walkers, activity saucers, bumbo style seats, all of which rob baby of crucial time they could be spending down on the floor moving. Often as well the play type containers force babies into positions that their bodies aren’t developmentally ready for yet.
This is why babies need dedicated (and supervised) time every single day to play and move against gravity. Being down on the ground is the safest place for your baby to do so as there is nowhere to fall from, and there is the space to explore, much like a playground. Surround your baby with safe objects to take explore (if they cannot yet hold on then do so for them), try a “treasure basket” and find things that make different sounds, that light up, or have different textures. Babies like novelty, and it doesn’t have to be an expensive toy for your baby to love it -often crumpled up wrapping paper captures their interest. Your baby’s playground is made even more exciting if their favourite people are down there with them– so, get down on the floor with your baby today! Even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time, little and often really does work wonders and you’ll quickly notice how much your baby learns.
If you’d like to try baby play and movement in a baby class type session or would like more ideas for how to make the ground an exciting playground then definitely try Baby Yoga! Baby yoga is developmental play in action and has heaps of benefits for your little one’s milestones not just physically, but socially, emotionally and sensory too. Baby Yoga can be added to what I always refer to as a “toolkit” of play ideas for your little one which you can take with you everywhere!
Love Carly xx
Blossom and Berry Team
- Forssberg, H. Hirschfeld, H. Movement Disorders in Children International Sven Jerring Symposium, Stockholm, August 1991: Proceedings
- R.Winer-Vacher., D.A.Hamilton, S.I.Winer. Vestibular activity and cognitive development in children: perspectives. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 2013: 7: p92
- K.Smith., A. Pellegrini. Learning Through Play Encyclopaedia of Early Childhood Development (2008)