5 Months: Feet to Mouth

Your 5-month-old just learned to lift his feet from the ground and grab them with his hands.  What’s next?  Putting the toes into the mouth, of course!

This is such a sweet phase of development.  Here is a quick review of the other amazing things that are happening as your baby pulls his toes into his mouth.

  • Activated abdominal muscles!  As you can see from the wrinkles on this baby’s tummy, the core muscles are firing and lifting the legs off the ground.
  • Developing and strengthening downward visual gaze.
  • Grasping and pulling with either one or both arms and hands.
  • Activating quadriceps muscles as the leg straightens.
  • Stretching out hamstrings from the physiological flexion present at birth.
  • Stretching the toes into extension.
  • Foot desensitization (with the heel pounding that happens when the feet hit the floor again).
  • Tactile input from mouthing, grabbing, stretching; preparing the feet for walking.
  • Developing general body awareness.

When a baby discovers this position, they are becoming experts at rolling to their side.

 

Backward Walking: What Are the Benefits?

Do you want to burn extra calories, work on motor coordination and challenge your balance?  Is your knee hurting as you walk up the hill? Turn around and take a part of your walk backwards.  It’s called retro-walking.

Walking in reverse with balance and control comes in handy many times a day.   Where does this happen?

  • As you take a step back to open the front door.
  • Forgot your keys in the house?  You will probably place one foot back while changing direction.
  • During a two person furniture lift, you’re the lucky one who gets to walk backwards!
  • Moving in a crowded kitchen, you back up to let your daughter squeeze by.
  • At the gallery you see a beautiful painting and take a few steps back to take it in.
  • On the playground you balance with a backward stepping response as your friend races by.  This time, you don’t fall.
  • On the soccer field you run in reverse to prevent the other team from scoring.
    Continue reading “Backward Walking: What Are the Benefits?”

Core Stability: Pushing

 

“My son’s core is so floppy, he really can’t push open the doors when we go to the library.  There is no force through his arms.  Now that he is older, this is stopping him from doing quite a few things”.

Pushing is an essential skill.   To go shopping, a cart must be pushed from aisle to aisle.   A dresser drawer can’t stay open; it must be pushed back into position. We push all day long without much thought about our action, whether it is tidying up the kitchen drawers, pushing a vacuum, going through a revolving door, or moving furniture back into its place. Continue reading “Core Stability: Pushing”

Core Stability: Pulling

“My daughter has low tone.  What can I do to get her core muscles working? When she is trying to pull open a heavy door, she can’t get any stability and she just gives up and asks us to do it for her”

Are you wanting to work on core stability with a young child? Strengthening is possible, but the way you go about it is quite different from adults.   Instead of counting repetitions, I find it is best to strengthen within the context of play.

I am imagining that we are stranded on a tropical island!  We have just caught the biggest fish in the sea and we are pulling it to shore! I have a long rope with just the right amount of weight tied to the other end.  That doesn’t have you?  OK, I am in the water and you are pulling me back to shore!  The story is yours to create: castles, sleeping dragons, stubborn donkeys.  Allow yourself to have fun with the stories.    Once children come up with a story and get hooked into the imaginative play, they don’t realize they are working themselves into a sweat! Continue reading “Core Stability: Pulling”

Nice Weight Through Your Heels, Little One

“Is my baby standing OK?  It seems like he is up on his toes, and toe walking runs in my family”.

The answer to this question, of course, depends on how old the baby is and how long he or she has been on their feet.  I teach in an infant mobility class every week and have the amazing opportunity to watch children pull to stand at the big drum in the middle of the room.  How they love to pound on that drum!   I love their joy and their success.  However, as the class physical therapist, I’m also looking closely at how they are standing.  Are they up on their tip toes and leaning into the drum, or are they standing with their hips a little behind their firmly planted feet?   Continue reading “Nice Weight Through Your Heels, Little One”

Wall Activities for Scapulo-Humeral Dissociation

 

You are playing a game on a flat surface during a PT session and everything is going well, but have you thought about the benefits of playing it on the wall instead?  

When we actively reach above shoulder level with hands on the wall, the scapular stabilizing muscles  (lower trapezius and serratus anterior muscles) hold the scapula in place while other muscles work off that stable foundation to elevate the arm (humerus).  Holding in this position dissociates the movement of the scapula from that of the humerus.  Dissociation of this kind naturally evolves in babies at about 5-6 months as they are on their stomachs and beginning to bear weight on extended arms.  Most children older than a year don’t enjoy a prone position any longer and will protest.  Don’t worry, you can get some of the same movement by playing a game on the wall or other vertical surface instead.  Check that you have optimal alignment in all other segments of the body:  rib cage, low back, hips, knees and ankles.
Continue reading “Wall Activities for Scapulo-Humeral Dissociation”

What Makes a Good Quality Squat?

The couch creaks and slides every time she sits down.  “I have no control once I start to bend my legs!”, she says.  

Controlled squatting allows babies to get down to the mattress after pulling to stand in their crib.  It allows children to sit down in a chair with control.  It is the ready position,  allowing a low basketball dribble or ease while moving wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer.    If we don’t have the required alignment, strength and endurance,  falls and crashes start to happen.  Squat with good alignment and build the strength and endurance to squat and recover over and over again in daily life. Continue reading “What Makes a Good Quality Squat?”