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visual motor development

Trouble with Fine Motor Skills? Why Tummy Time is So Important

Do you or your child need better focus and/or fine motor skills?

In his 2008 book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell introduced us to the concept of 10,000 hours for mastery. Motor skill development is no different, yet we find so many reasons why infants and young children have missed out on the hours and hours necessary to set them up for success in school.

No need to hang out on the floor to make up earlier times. We can find the gaps, no matter your age, and get you upgraded quickly.

Why tummy time is so important

Babies learn by doing. Fidgeting, falling, wiggling, laughing and crying, rolling, pushing and pulling. Their sole job really is to practice a variety of ways to experience the world in order to understand the world in a multi-sensory perspective–visual, auditory, gravity and balance. They spend hours and hours in order to level up! (Maybe they are prepping for teen years of video game achievements?)

Just how many hours are actually spent on foundational skill development?

The study, “How Do You Learn to Walk? Thousands of Steps and Dozens of Falls Per Day” looked at how babies learn to walk.

Here is an astonishing observation. “Although most people would assume that infants walk and fall a lot, few would guess that the average toddler takes 2368 steps, travels 701 m — the length of 7.7 American football fields — and falls 17 times per hour, six hours per day.” This amounts to over 14,000 steps per day!

Malcolm Gladwell clarified that 10,000 hours doesn’t guarantee excelling at a skill, but this seems to be the amount of practice required to excel given a suitable level ability. For infants, the practice is essential. Tummy time is the first experience where infants develop skills which become the underlying foundation of visual-motor skills, essential for school success.

Does your infant get hours of essential tummy time each day? There are many reasons why they many not. The reasons generally fall into two categories — environmental or health-related. In this newsletter we will focus on the environmental factors, which are changeable.

Which skills are being short-changed?

When infants develop, they develop what we call laddered skills. The basic skills become a platform for higher level skills.

The postural and head control (control is different than strength) developed over days and months during tummy time are base layers for so many later cognitive and sensorimotor skills. Since these skills ladder on each other, a weakness early on creates an unstable “ladder” of growth and development.

A lesser known benefit of advanced tummy time has to do with weight bearing on hands. This develops the arches in the palm essential for efficient grasp used for more mature fine motor skills such as holding pencils and using forks and knives.

There are many more examples of laddered skills from infancy which play out over and over again in skill fluency of later childhood years.

One common and surprising reason why today’s children have focus and stamina issues? — SITTING as an infant!

In fact, the top selling baby gear actually deprives your child of key postural and visual-motor development experiences. Convenience and innovation come at a huge cost to building a robust developmental foundation.

Popular items at any baby shower include:

  • Infant positioners (hold a baby in cradled upright position)
  • Infant reclining seats and bounders (hold baby in angled position)
  • Multi-purpose stroller/car seats (you never have to take baby out!)
  • Bumbo or similar seats. (babies sit without needing to use core muscles even though they are advertised as ‘trainers’)

With the wide range of seats used to contain infants from dawn to dusk it is easy to see how critical hours of core and sensory system development are missing. This integrated development only comes from practice and quantity matters!

How do we help?

At Kinetic Konnections we understand the relationships between these early life events and the challenges your child may be having in life and school.

We identify the “glass half full” aspect of function — how are skills working even though they may not be working entirely the way they are supposed to. This is the default for how a child has found to compensate. Often the default compensatory mechanisms shed light onto why the kids act out the way they do. This can range from interesting homework postures and homework habits to avoidance and defiance. Once understood, you can better advocate and support, instead of nag.

The positions of success become our starting point as we use the Bridging Technique to pair muscle function. We replicate the tummy time arm, shoulder, core, and head skills to clear-up any skews or gaps from that developmental period. (At any age!)

The amazing part? The child’s muscles seem like they’ve been waiting for the right help to function correctly. The change is immediate and lasts. Daily life reinforces the new movement relationships.

What is even more amazing? The subsequent laddered skills automatically start changing and moderating. Social skills become more age appropriate with increased ability to read the non-verbal aspects of communication — facial expression, intonation, body language, and linguistic inferences. It seems like restoring the missing skill allowed an entire set of gears to shift!

Why this matters to us, and to you

Poor integration or skipped aspects of the early upper body control and movement come into play with many school and recreational skills.

Often children are acting out by avoiding. Another coping mechanism is to develop self-narratives of “I can’t” or “I’m not good at.” Self-confidence is at stake!

You don’t have to do thousands of hours of tummy time to get so much to change! We close the gap for you.

Read more about school readiness on our website.