Monday, February 16, 2015

Motor Monday--Winter Fun & Balance Work

Well I am totally over winter and counting down the minutes til spring!  But, the babies are just now starting to get into the whole snow thing, which is fun and makes the rest of winter a little more tolerable.  The first few times they mostly just sat wherever we plunked them down, generally not very happily.  Ellie has been especially curmudgeonly about the snow until the last couple of times we've been out.  Right now we can't go out because it is ridiculously cold, but we went out a lot a couple of weeks ago.
This is kind of how Ellie always looked in the snow for the first couple months
Getting all dressed in snow gear and getting boots on is quite the feat for the moms, but it has also been a nice gauge for the babies' ever improving motor skills, particularly balance.  The first time we ever put boots on them they could barely stand up and wouldn't dare take a step.  I really wish we'd taken pictures and videos of that first day in boots in the house!  These two pictures show you the progress they made in just over a month.
This was December 23rd & Isaiah & Ellie couldn't stand unless
they were holding onto the dock
January 27th & everyone walking on their own on a slippery snowy driveway
For new walkers wearing boots presents quite the challenge.  Not only are they bulky and heavy, relatively speaking, but they typically have pretty thick and stiff soles.  Why does this matter?  Well when we are learning to walk we get a ton of information about the surface we are standing on by feeling the ground under our feet and knowing where our feet and the rest of our body is in relation to the groud.  This is one of those "other senses" that you don't typically learn about in school, called proprioception or knowing where your body is in space.  We also use all the little muscles in our feet to help us stay upright.  (Have you ever noticed babies curling their toes like they are trying to hold onto the floor when they are standing?)  And boots get in the way of both of those functions.  For some kiddos even putting on a new pair of shoes is like rewinding the clock a couple weeks on their walking skills.  This is also why I recommend that kids learn to walk barefoot as much as possible and always recommend very thin soled shoes like Robeez for new walkers.

In addition to walking in boots, winter weather can provide some great natural opportunities to work on more advanced balance skills like walking in a couple inches (or more) of snow and walking on slippery surfaces, which challenges the adults' balance too!

walking in boots & snow is so tricky!
Here are some videos of the babies walking in snow with commentary on the motor skills involved:

Avery is a pro walker inside, and swings her arms when she walks and has a fairly narrow gait.  In this video you can see just how wide her feet are and how she holds her arms up by her shoulders.

This video shows all three walking down a snowy driveway.  They aren't pros by any stretch, but they have gotten a lot better!  This is a doubly difficult task because they are walking down an incline...

In this video you can see Avery & Ellie walking up the driveway.  If you watch closely you can see Avery's feet slipping just a bit on most steps walking up and yet she maintains her balance.  You can see Ellie slip & fall when she loses her footing.

Walking outside is a great way to work on kids' balance!  The hard part is that we have little to no control over Mother Nature which makes it hard to find the "just right" challenge when it comes to balance.  For kids who are a little bit older than our babies walking in deeper snow is a great added challenge, not to mention a great workout.

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