Monday, March 17, 2014

Motor Monday: Baby Sit-ups

Tonight's post is going to be quick and "off the cuff" because I had another post written and then realized I was missing a key video!  So I'm whipping this up before heading to bed.  Just like us, babies should be doing sit ups as part of their regular exercise routine.  Baby sit ups are a great way to work on head control and abdominal strength.  Here's a video of Avery doing baby sit-ups, or pull to sit, at about three and a half months.

In this second video, she has already done 3 or 4 reps of baby sit ups and you can see the muscle fatigue set in.  One tip for doing baby sit ups is to try to get your baby to look at your face before you start (making silly faces, talking, and singing can help).  Most babies will be motivated to keep that eye contact and will work harder to lift their head so they can keep seeing mom or dad.  Avery wasn't cooperating with that for this video.  She was too busy looking around which didn't help with her head control!

If your baby isn't ready for this version of baby sit ups, you can start with a modified version where you support your baby behind her shoulders rather than grasping her hands/arms.  If your baby's head is dropping back like Avery's in the second video right from the start, try the modified version.  If it seems like your baby is having trouble getting started, you can start at the top and slowly lower baby down to the floor/bed/changing table.  Just like grown up sit ups, babies are working both on the way up and on the way down so take your time both directions. You may notice that at first the baby will be able to hold her head until just before reaching the bed and then it will flop back.  You can keep your fingers positioned just an inch or two behind baby's head when doing this so you can "catch" her head if it flops.  A more advanced version is to hold just the baby's hands rather than her whole forearm as I do in this video.

Baby sit ups are super easy to integrate into daily routines, which is one thing I love about them.  Our babies do them almost every time they get up from the changing table or floor.  You can also do the reverse sit up every time you put them on the changing table for a diaper change for double duty.  Just doing these at diaper changes means they're doing a minimum of eight sit ups over the course of a day, and as we can attest, often many more times than that!  If you want to work on endurance you can do multiple sit ups in a row until your baby shows signs of fatigue.

Did you know that a study was published in 2012 showing an association between head lag (where the babies head lolls backward) during pull to sit and autism spectrum disorders in high risk infants (siblings of children with ASD)?  They showed an association, which is very different than causality, so this does NOT mean that all infants with head lag at 6 months will have autism, but head lag at 6 months may be indicative of some type of neurodevelopmental problem.  Pull to sit is only one indication of the development of postural control, but if your baby is struggling with it at 6 months of age, it is worth bringing up with your pediatrician!  

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