AIthough it might not be beach weather outside, a beach ball offers year round opportunities for play time fun with your baby, and they are one of the favourite items we use at classes. Here are a few ways that this simple, inexpensive item can be used to help boost your baby’s development, as well as providing hours of entertainment – whatever the weather!
I’m sure it goes without saying, but do take care to always hold your baby securely when doing any of the following activities on the ball.
Massage and Relaxation
Lie baby on his or her back over the ball with it partially deflated.
Bring baby’s arms above the head and stretch out the spine.
Gently bounce baby on the ball, move the arms and legs up and down, and side to side.
Hold baby’s hands and pull up a few centimetres, then release. Do this slowly and gently, supporting the head if needed.
Gently massage baby’s hands, feet and face if they enjoy it. You can also place baby over the ball on his or her tummy and massage the back.
Lie baby over the ball on his or her tummy.
Encourage baby to keep their head lifted as you rock the ball forwards and back, and side to side. This helps to strengthen the neck and back muscles and improve head control.
Rock baby all the way forward until his or her hands touch the floor. Place a toy in front for baby to reach out for and pick up.
For older babies, encourage them to put weight on their hands, and build up to forwards hand walking, letting the body roll forwards on the ball.
Sit baby on top of the ball and, holding them securely, rock the ball in different directions. This will help to strengthen baby’s core muscles as they naturally move to regain balance.
Hold baby’s hands and gently move them forwards and back a few times, then pull further forwards until their feet touch the floor. Let them take their weight on their legs as you pull them up to standing.
Sit with your baby and give them the ball to play with as they wish. You may want to show them how to roll the ball, how to shake it or bounce it, and if it is made from clear plastic like the ones we use at our play sessions, how to look through it to see you on the other side.
The great thing about a beach ball is that is it can continue to be enjoyed by your little one and used in lots of different ways as they grow too. Look out for other ideas on ways that you can use a beach ball to help your toddler develop lots of useful skills soon, or pop along to a class and try some out for yourself.
To buy a beach ball, you can purchase one from your class leader, or from our online store here (where you will find plenty of other items to delight your child!).
For lots more ideas on exciting new ways to play with your baby or toddler, Find a Tots Play Class near you or sign up to our online course to learn new and exciting ways to play with your baby and toddler.
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Happy Playing! xxx