You don’t have to understand everything about baby development to sense that something might be wrong. One of the problems that parents sometimes notice is that their baby is arching too much. If you sense your baby is not “holding” you with his or her legs and arms, I strongly suggest that you have your baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist. This is generally a sign that your child is overusing extension in his or her movement patterns or having difficulty with their muscle tone. These arching movements can lead to more abnormal movement patterns and make attaining skills more difficult.
Other signs for this:
–arms stay pulled back and high, even in sitting
–unable to roll or “flips” to roll
–not grabbing feet after about 5 months old
–when on tummy, looks like he or she is “swimming” on tummy with arms and legs held up
This is a partial list. Generally, this needs to be addressed by someone who can teach you how to hold and carry your baby. For now, try these 6 simple ways to improve your baby’s development and reduce arching:
1.) Carry your baby in a “ball” by curling feet toward his or her hands
2.) Place baby on his or her back and bring feet toward their hands to play peek a boo between his or her feet
3.) Place your child in side-lying to play (even if older). This will help bring arms together more.
4.) Carry your baby in a split leg position–hold one leg up and let the other dangle with your baby facing away from you.
5.) Place your baby on his or her back and put colorful socks on your baby’s feet or maybe a rattle sock on their foot to encourage them to pull their feet up more to look at them.
6.) Place your baby on his or her back under a baby gym with the toys dangling near their feet. Show your baby how to lift his or her feet to kick the toys. As your baby gets better at this, slide the gym toward your baby’s knees to make him or her lift the legs even higher. All of this will work your baby’s lower abdominals and reduce some of the arching.
If you feel your baby is arching too much, there may be a medical reason as well, such as reflux or constipation. These conditions can be treated easily to reduce the discomfort your baby may be feeling. Other causes could be related to prematurity or other medical conditions. This is always worth having someone like a pediatric physical therapist evaluate your child. Your baby should not be arching a lot to move and this can easily be remedied with simple instructions to play and carry your child like the ones given above.
These are just a few tips. More can be found under the gross motor activity pages for rolling, tummy time, and sitting games.
For more ideas on ways to play with your child, click HERE for available books.