Bountiful Benefits of the Baby Belly Swing
Join us while we take a swing into the science of swings! The infants you work with are in a crucial time of growth and development, both physically and mentally. You may not think about how your daily playful activities with them aid their growth, yet play can be highly productive. Your playground may already include the classic toddler Bucket Seat or “big kid” swings, but if you’re looking for the best swing set for babies and infants, you can’t go wrong with the Belly Swing. Of course, specific benefits can only come from a Baby Belly Swing like ours at Nature of Early Play, so let’s look at how this infant play equipment develops coordination and gross motor skills.
Most people were taught that we have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. These may be five of the most apparent senses, but our bodies use many more sensations to function correctly. One of these additional senses is proprioception, the child’s awareness of their movement and position in space. While this sensation is less “famous” this doesn’t mean it’s any less important! Babies and toddlers must add vestibular development to their ever-growing list of developmental endeavors. But what does that mean, and what role do you play?
What is the vestibular system and how does it relate to baby play?
The vestibular system is what controls coordination and balance by providing the brain with information about the body’s motion and position in space. Components of the inner ear primarily provide these signals. Within the inner ear is a labyrinth of swirling canals and receptors that pick up vestibular sensations and send information back to the brain stem. You may have heard that your inner ear contains fluid that aids these receptors and plays a role in motion sickness. The movement of this fluid within the ear canals provides further information about changes in position, which makes a baby adjust their posture accordingly. Various activities are critical to developing a baby’s proprioception, building gross motor skills, and improving coordination.
What does this have to do with me?
You don’t have to be a physical or occupational therapist to help build a child’s vestibular system. Don’t underestimate your role as you interact with little ones on a daily basis. Many ways you play with babies and toddlers also stimulate the vestibular system, whether you realize it or not. There are specific activities that have shown to be more beneficial than others. Specifically, research has demonstrated the importance of infants and toddlers spending time on their bellies to improve neck strength and posture. Some examples of coordination-building activities include:
- Baby “airplane”: The classic “airplane” game doesn’t just come in handy when you need them to eat their peas. Your toddler can become an airplane, too! Gently “flying” them around on their belly is not only entertaining but requires them to focus their eyes to have spatial awareness.
- The “knee bounce”: What toddler doesn’t love going for a ride on a grown-up’s knees? The bouncing sensation means the baby will have to balance to intentionally keep their head and body upright.
- Yoga: You’ve heard of Baby Yoda, but have you heard of baby yoga? Adults realize yoga’s mental and physical benefits, and babies, toddlers, and kids can experience many of the same benefits. Children love contorting themselves into all kinds of positions. So why not harness that fun into yoga poses that stimulate vestibular development?
- The Beach Ball Roll: Have a baby or toddler lay on their belly on top of a large ball and gently rock the ball forward, backward, and side-to-side. The baby will constantly have to adjust their head and neck posture to stay coordinated, which will also build essential muscle groups.
- Belly Swing for Toddlers and Babies: Babies need time on their bellies, so incorporating a belly swing into your play area combines the benefits of belly time with the sensory stimulation of the swing. The smooth movement forward and backward makes the baby especially aware of their changing position in space.
Autism and other Sensory Processing Disorders
It can be especially crucial for children with Autism and other Sensory Processing Disorders to receive intentional, controlled vestibular input. Our baby Belly Swing provides linear, rhythmic swinging that can be very calming to these children. It can simulate the feeling of being rocked to sleep, and the speed of swinging can be slowed as needed. For example, try having the toddler put together a simple puzzle while slowly swinging on their belly to practice self-regulation.
What makes our baby Belly Swing unique?
You want to provide the highest quality care for your children, so it’s understandable that you want the best baby swing available. As with all of our products, Nature of Early Play designed our Infant Belly Swing to go above and beyond the typical belly rocker for babies. The great thing about our baby belly swing is that it can be secured to the ground if you want it as an added permanent fixture to an existing playground. Alternatively, it can be portable if you need to utilize the belly swing in multiple locations.
The standard height swing you may find on your playground is not suited for the 0-23-month age group. We don’t want anything to get in the way of the fun, so safety is always a consideration for our playground equipment. Our baby belly swing comes with two inches of padding covered in marine-quality fabric to prevent injuries if your toddlers decide to test out their flying abilities! The chains are also coated to prevent pinching little fingers. Belly swinging isn’t just for our littlest clients, so Nature of Early Play makes an In-Ground Belly Swing suited for 2- to 5-year olds.
Whether you work at a daycare, church, community center, or other venues, you impact the lives of little ones. It’s your turn to take a swing at your children’s vestibular development! Contact us and discover for yourself the amazing power of the simple belly swing.
Vestibular System | Center for Developing Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://centerfordevelopingkids.com/parents/vestibular-system/
Wiener-Vacher, S. R., Hamilton, D. A., & Wiener, S. I. (2013). Vestibular activity and cognitive development in children: perspectives. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnint.2013.00092
Your Child’s Vestibular System. (2019, February 22). Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://babysparks.com/2019/02/22/your-babys-vestibular-system/