The vestibular system is an important part of your child’s body. It’s a system of tiny organs in your child’s inner ear that provide their brain with information about where they are in space — up or down, sideways, etc.
Understanding where we are in space allows us to keep our balance and move smoothly. Just as babies and toddlers need opportunities for movement exploration to develop their ability to crawl, pull up to a stand, cruise and walk, they also need opportunities to develop their vestibular system for activities like dance, gymnastics and more!
Here are 5 easy ways to help your child develop their vestibular system so they can stay active and have fun as they grow.
Keep on Rocking
From a young age, encourage your child to explore different movements by rocking side to side, front to back, on a yoga ball (spotted of course), on a balance board, in a rocking chair, or by standing up and holding hands with a grown up to rock along to their favorite song!
Let it Slide
Sliding down a slide quickly (and trying to stay sitting upright) is a great activity that provides spatial input, as well as engaging the core.
A great way to spot your child on a slide is to place one hand in front of your child’s torso and your other hand behind their back in case they pitch forward or backward on their way down. This keeps them safe, but still lets them engage their core muscles.
- Prioritize activities that get your child upside down:Stand up and hold your child facing you, and then give them a slow dip backward and then back up.
- Hang from monkey bars or rings, put hands down and jump feet up in a donkey kick
- Try a mini handstand against a wall with hands on the ground and one (or both) feet up on the wall.
Put a Spin on It
Spinning is another great way for your child to get in touch with their vestibular system:
- Twirl around
- Sit in a Frisbee and spin
- Play Ring Around the Rosy — go round and round until you get dizzy and fall down!
- Use a tire swing or floor scooters
- Try tumbling (forward rolls, log rolls) and cartwheel-like movements such as monkey jumps (hands down and both feet jump to the right or to the left).
Help your child engage their vestibular system by practicing balance with the following activities:
- Walking on a curb or line (or a balance beam!).
- Walk on the couch cushions or across a bed.
- Balance across an obstacle course, or try some stretches or yoga poses.
While these 5 idea include activities you can try at home, gymnastics classes at Mountain Kids are a fun and safe place where your child will experience all of these activities with an experienced coach there to guide them.
We implement many of these ideas in our Twinkle Stars class (for infants to walkers) as well as in our Moonbeamer classes (confidently walking toddlers up to 3 years old) and Rainbow Rider (preschool) classes at Mountain Kids Louisville!
Play and Learn open gyms 3 times a week also give your child further opportunities to explore and play with you in the gym in addition to their weekly class.
Whether in the gym or at home, enjoy some playful movement with your child today!
Discover more about the learning benefits of Rainbow Riders for your child >