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Crossing the Midline: Activities to Promote

Crossing the midline is a fundamental skill that begins to emerge in infancy and continues to develop into early childhood. It is necessary for important developmental milestones such as crawling, walking, using a spoon to eat, writing, and reading.

Simply put, crossing the midline refers to the ability to meaningfully use a hand, foot, or eye on the opposite side of the body. In order for this to happen, the two hemispheres of the brain must be able to communicate with one another. If a child has difficulty crossing his midline, it can be a greater challenge for him to engage in everyday tasks from dressing to school work to sports. If you notice your child is having difficulty developing hand dominance, gets lost or frustrated when visually tracking words or objects, or seems generally less coordinated than other children his age, his ability to cross midline may be underdeveloped.

7 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:CrossingtheMidline

  1. Have the child straddle a low bench or other object that keeps his feet planted on either side. Use two different bracelets, stickers, etc. to differentiate the right and left hand while you have him pick up objects near his feet from the opposite side. This could be bean bags to throw, puzzle pieces to place, or beads to string onto a craft necklace. This activity can also be done in a “criss cross” seated position on the floor but be sure the child is not turning his entire trunk to pick up items.
  2. Having the child sit or stand in one place, throw, bounce, or roll a ball off-center of their body. He will need to use two hands to catch the ball and toss it back to you.
  3. With one hand placed flat on the surface in front of the child, have him use the other hand to trace over a large infinity sign. Switch hands after 10 cycles. Ideally this should be done on a vertical surface with the feet kept in one place.
  4. Trace big shapes, letters, and numbers in the air using index fingers and big toes.
  5. March to music and try to touch hands or elbows to the opposite knee.
  6. Trace horizontal lines across a long piece of paper. Make sure the paper is placed directly in front of his body and one hand is stabilizing the paper while the other traces across.
  7. Sit back to back and practice passing a ball to each other on each side. If you have more than two people, you can sit in a circle and play hot potato!

For additional suggestions and general recommendations to promote this skill, stay tuned for next week’s blog with even MORE great activities to try!

 

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Engaging Your Newborn Baby: 5 Simple Tips for Interacting with Your Baby

As a new parent, chances are that you have spent countless hours just gazing into your newborn’s eyes. However, between nonstop feedings, washing copious amounts of laundry, all of those diaper changes , and trying to sneak in a nap, some new parents may feel left in the dark when it comes to play time.  As your baby starts to become more interactive daily, you may quietly think to yourself, “Well, now what?”.

mom and infant playing

Here are some simple activities you can do with your baby throughout the day to help lay the appropriate foundation for language development:

Never underestimate the power of a smile

Babies love to look at faces. Even at an early age, they are able to be easily engaged and will focus on exaggerated facial expressions for a brief period of time. Therefore, take moments throughout the day to block off some face-to-face time. You will be amazed at how attentive your baby is during these times, and you will see him/her start to attempt to imitate the facial movements you make (especially with your tongue). They’ll get a kick out of seeing you smile, and how can you resist staring back at that adorable little toothless grin?

Turn bath time into play time

Bath time provides many opportunities for sensory exploration, so help maximize this time as much as you can by offering various textures of objects (washcloth, bubbles, water toys etc.) that contain different sensory properties. Talk about how the items look and feel, and even sing to your child during this time as well. Your baby will be calmed by the warmth of the water and soothed by the sound of your voice. Also, try to time bath time immediately before putting your child to bed in order to establish a nighttime routine.

Introduce books

You will help to facilitate a lifelong love of reading and literature when you introduce books at an early age. Provide your child with plenty of soft books and board books, which contain many bright and colorful pictures. Touch and feel books are perfect for this age, as they allow your child to be more interactive as well. Also, keep the books brief, as your little one is not exactly ready for a novel anyway. Short and simple books containing repetition are perfect for infants.

The importance of exercise

Any PT will tell you about the importance of tummy time, so help make this activity more fun and interactive for your child by providing various toys and objects for them to interact with. Try placing a child-friendly mirror directly in front of them, as your baby will love looking that the “other” baby staring back. Also, help encourage babies to follow your voice by moving to either side of them. Even at a young age, children are able to identify their parent’s voices, so by simply changing your position in relation to your baby, you will be enhancing this skill. You can also play simple games, such as peek-a-boo when facing your child, in order to keep them engaged.

Talk, talk, talk

Talk to your child throughout the day, especially when completing familiar activities such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cooking dinner. Doing so will help to expose your child to the language associated with these activities. Though the “conversations” with your baby will seem very one-sided at first, over time you will notice that your baby will attempt to chime in when you are speaking. You will be able to quickly observe the give-and-take, as your child will quiet when you begin talking, then “comment” after you speak.

As a new parent, it can be completely overwhelming trying to juggle all of your responsibilities, so just remember to breathe! Don’t feel as though you have to do everything right off the bat. As you and your baby settle into a routine, you will notice that you are able to find some extra time to sneak in these activities.  By introducing just a couple of these ideas throughout the day, you will quickly notice that your child becomes more engaged during these times and will start to anticipate the activities as well.  Congratulations and welcome to the exciting world of parenthood!

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