Kid’s Brains Love To Be Upside-Down
As parents and caregivers, we all want our children to be happy and healthy. The early years of a child’s life are the most important as they are often the building blocks for their future. These early experiences can affect their development and one of the most important things a child does in this time is interact with their environment through play.
Encouraging Optimal Development Through Play
Movement is essential for our kids to learn as it stimulates the brain in many ways, including via the balance sensors. The balance sensors are part of the vestibular organs and have many specialised nerve cells. They form a very important part of the nervous system as they assist in maintaining a calm state as well as good balance and posture.
Balance is the ability to maintain a controlled body position, allowing an individual to function effectively across a wide range of environments and tasks. It is important for kids to move in the three different dimensions, vertical, horizontal and diagonal, for healthy development.¹
Kids should be encouraged to place their bodies in the upside down (USD) position, for brief moments. This can help stimulate the balance mechanisms of the body that link the brain, eyes and muscles. It helps to ensure that the different sensory systems work together, enabling optimum flow and interpretation of complex information.
How to Encourage Balance Development, using Upside Down Position in All Ages
Upside down position is safe for all ages, but should be administered appropriately. Below are some simple safe techniques, a practitioner may teach some more advanced techniques depending on their assessment of your child. As always check with a practitioner before trying anything you are unsure of.
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Younger Non-Mobile Babies
- Supporting their head, rock them side to side and back and forth while holding them closely
- Give your baby lots of tummy time: Helps to strengthen head, neck and shoulder muscles that are essential for future activities
- Rest baby on your lap with the head towards the you knees and gently lower your knees while holding baby's feet.
Older Non-Mobile Babies or Crawlers
- Encourage crawling on all fours as this gives them USD time while they explore their surroundings
- Gain their attention with a toy and move the toy up and down so that they follow the movement with their head
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Toddlers (1-3 years) to School-Aged Children
- Encourage games that require their head to be below their waist such as animal walks or wheel-barrows (where you hold your child and they walk on their hands)
- As kids get older, they will love rolling and spinning games, cartwheels, handstands and somersaults are excellent activities
Gymbaroo is a structured development based "play group" that helps you learn ways to enhance your child's development. I have taken my son to one of these groups for some time, and it is a great time for both child and parent.
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Benefits of the Upside Down Position for ALL Ages
- Spine hangs straight
- Helps to build core and upper body strength
- Increases focus
- Reduces stress and encourages a calm state
- Releases pressure from the spine caused by gravity and other weight bearing activities.²
The benefits of being in the upside down position is most effective when combined with Spinal Care treatment, this combination can help to encourage optimal development.
Why does my baby need spinal care?
When your baby is born, their spine and surrounding muscles are not yet fully developed, during their first few months of life their muscles get stronger and become more controlled and coordinated.
While children are very resilient, right from conception they are placed under stresses that can affect their spinal health and in turn may affect their overall development. The birth process can be very stressful for your little bundle of joy as there is a huge amount of pressure placed on the head, neck and other spinal joints and they do not have the developed musculature to protect them. Particularly if there is any complications or the labour process doesn't go quite according to plan. This can result in spinal subluxations, tension, misalignment and even torticollis of the spine.
When a these spinal issues are present it can affect the flow of information from the brain, through the spine to all other organs of the body and can therefore result in the reduced functioning of any body system or organ. Tension and spinal joint stressors can result in your baby experiencing irritability, restricted movement, colic and digestive issues. Click here to find out more about the relationship between the nervous system and spine.
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Tips for Baby’s Health
- Have their spine assessed with one of our Spinal Care Specialists as soon after birth as possible. It is best to have them checked regularly, particularly after significant stressors such as falls and as they begin to sit up, crawl and walk.
- Show your child love and warmth, a strong bond with a parent can assist with their psychological and intellectual development.
- Always support your baby’s head and neck and never shake your baby
- Until they can hold their head up it is best that they are transported in your arms, supportive sling, pram or baby capsule.
- When using a sling, ensure they are placed securely in the sling and ensure that you check them regularly so they don’t overheat.³
Toddlers, Children and Spinal Care
As your little bundle of joy becomes a crawler, walker and runner, there is going to be falls, scrapes and tears but the effects of these minor accidents can be far reaching. Often, these accidents result in reduced health without any obvious symptoms.⁴
Some Signs of Spinal tension and Subluxation in Young Children include
- Sleeping problems
- Colic and irritability
- Recurring ear aches and other infections
- Learning and attention difficulties
- Poor posture
- Limited joint movement
Having regular spinal care appointments will assist in improving their overall health and ensuring optimal development.
Benefits of Regular Spinal Care for Kids
- Help minimise common childhood conditions such as asthma, allergies, behavioural problems, and recurring chest and ear infections
- Improved coordination, strength and flexibility
- Reduced occurrence of colds and flu
- Early detection and prevention of scoliosis
- Stimulates brain activity and development
- Feeling well, relaxed and emotionally balanced
- Reduced spinal degeneration and postural problems in adulthood⁵
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1. Kid Sense Child Development. http://www.childdevelopment.com.au/understanding-language/90
2. GymbaROO. (2014). First Steps: Issue 83
3. Wellness Practices. (2005) Babies
4. Australian Spinal Research Foundation. (2012). Childhood falls- What is the impact? Illuminate Chiropractic News, vol. 1. p.15
5. Wellness Practices. (2005). Children
Image Credit: losiek via Everystockphoto
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Image Credit: Akexmaher via Everystockphoto
Image Credit: Mike Baird via Everystockphoto