Health is unthinkable without movement. And if it is sometimes difficult for us to persuade ourselves to exercise once again, then children are happy to do it themselves. After the child goes, there is no stopping him. The kid continuously explores the world around him through sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
In the first months of life, the child is limited in movement and cognition. But the more diverse the movements, the more diverse the information obtained through them. So the mental development of a child directly depends on his motor activity.
The dependency here is very simple: a) sedentary muscles, bones, ligaments and joints do not receive enough stimuli, as a result of which b) they do not acquire the tone necessary for further growth, which c) slows down the development of motor skills and abilities, and this leads to d) limited opportunities to learn new things about the world.
Fortunately, we have gymnastics — it will help eliminate the lack of movement in the baby, create favorable conditions for his health and development. And gymnastics will also help maintain emotional contact between mom and baby. Loving mother’s hands, her gentle stroking, affectionate voice when she reads nursery rhymes to the baby during classes — all this makes the baby very happy.
Infants can only participate in passive gymnastics programs. This:
- gymnastics (physical exercises);
- gymnastics on the ball;
Gymnastics is good with a wide variety of movements. Exercises improve appetite, digestion, sleep, deepen breathing (thereby developing the lungs), cause increased blood flow to the muscles, to the bones with which they are connected, which contributes to their growth. They tone up the body, give the baby a great charge of energy and joy. The baby learns to feel his body, understand its signals and be in tune with his physical self.
Up to a year, it is advisable to precede gymnastics with a baby with a massage session. It warms up and prepares the muscles for exercise during exercise, which will be the final stage of the massage.
Gymnastics on the ball
Ball exercises are very popular with children of any age. But in infancy, in addition to the pleasure of classes, we can safely talk about their undoubted benefits.
- Reduce muscle hypertension;
- Improve the work of internal organs;
- Train the vestibular apparatus;
- Strengthen the muscles of the back, abdomen and extremities;
- Reduce discomfort with colic.
A set of exercises for children helps strengthen the muscles of the back, especially around the spine, makes the spine strong and flexible. And this is the key to the normal functioning of the nervous system and the free distribution of nerve impulses throughout the body.
Basic principles of gymnastics on the ball
- Strengthening the muscles of the back – we put the child on his stomach.
- Strengthening the abdominal muscles – we put the child on his back.
- Strengthening the muscles with an umbilical hernia – we put the child on his back.
- The general relaxation of the child is usually on the stomach.
- Correction of muscles in case of asymmetry of muscle tone — the slope of the ball in the direction where there is an increased tone.
The optimal diameter of the ball for training with an infant is 60 – 65 cm. In infancy, in order to reduce the increased tone, the ball is lowered a little; in order, on the contrary, to tone the body, they inflate it tightly. In addition to the general for all types of gymnastics, there are practically no specific contraindications for practicing on the ball, with the exception of an unhealed umbilical wound. You can start classes from the age of one month.
Do not worry if at first both you and the baby will feel a little insecure and tense: you will both get used to it quickly if you practice regularly and without forcing events.
You will be surprised how quickly the baby’s body will react to such activities: the results of exercises on the ball will be noticeable almost immediately. The baby will become more active, stronger, will stop being afraid of changes in the position of his body, his sleep and appetite will improve, he will receive a positive emotional charge.
Technique of performing exercises
We hold the child’s legs from above, press them to the ball, the second hand fixes the back. We make soft, rocking movements: forward-backward, left-right, circular movements left-right. It is not necessary to tilt the child very much forward, the greater emphasis is in the direction of the legs. As the child gets used to the ball, the amplitude can be increased. You can also make movements in two planes – forward-backward and up-down at the same time. The same movements are performed on the back as on the stomach, they should be started no earlier than 3 months: forward-backward, left-right, circular movements in one direction and in the other.
- Baby on the tummy. We put our hands on the baby’s back and lightly press him against the ball. You can hold the crumb by the back with your right hand, and with your left — fix the left leg in the knee joint area. We begin to slowly shake the baby forward, backward, in a circle, so that there is a slight vibration.
- In the same position, shake the baby to and from yourself, with a slight vibration, if the baby is already holding the head.
- Baby on the back. We hold it with our hands by the stomach and in the shin area, or you can fix the tummy with your right hand, and the left leg with your left. Slowly, when the ball is swinging towards us, we bend the baby’s legs in the knee joints, and when the ball moves away from us, we straighten it. Gently shake the child in the supine position in the head-down position. It is good if the baby straightens his arms at the same time, this reduces the tone of the flexor muscles. Now we try to perform the same movement first only with the right, then only with the left foot.
- The baby is back on his tummy. We hold his hands and shake him back and forth. Gradually lift the handles extended forward so that the baby tears the chest off the ball.
- In the same position, we hold the baby with our right hand in the lumbar region, and with the left we try to put him in the “frog pose”, spreading his knees wide. In this position, we shake forward, backward, creating a vibration. It is not only relaxing, but also very useful for the development of hip joints.
While practicing on the ball, talk to the baby, praise him, sing songs or say jokes. If the kid didn’t like something or he was already tired – stop the lessons, continue another time. The time of practice on the ball is not strictly regulated. If you and your child enjoy it, practice as much as you want during the day.
Children perfectly perceive this relatively new way of physical development. You can start the exercises at home, in the bathroom and make them the final stage after massage and gymnastics or a separate lesson.
Swimming from the first months of a child’s life is very useful not only for physical development, but also for strengthening the nervous system. The baby is immersed in the environment to which he is accustomed, and this gives him a sense of psychological comfort. Classes in water do not overload the child and are especially recommended for children with disorders of psychomotor development, suffering from diseases of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
- strengthens the immune system;
- normalizes sleep;
- regulates metabolism;
- stimulates the gastrointestinal tract;
- saturates the blood with oxygen;
- trains the cardiovascular system;
- forms proper breathing;
- it affects the nervous system.
The main thing in classes is their gradual and systematic nature. While the baby is getting used to the procedure, you can stay in the bathroom with him, usually both an adult and a baby get a lot of pleasure from it.
Basic principles of aquagymnastics
- The comfortable water temperature in the first classes is 37-37.5 degrees, with a decrease of 3 degrees until the end of the first month of swimming, and another 2 degrees for the third. For those who are bolder: please remember that the temperature should not fall below 28 degrees — in this case we are talking about hardening.
- The air temperature in the bathroom is 20-22 degrees, the door is open. Classes are held 40-60 minutes after feeding and 30 minutes before it.
- The duration of classes is 5 – 20 minutes.
- The water should be without additives (potassium permanganate, essential oils, herbal decoctions, salt), since baths with these additives are therapeutic and designed for a lying baby, and aquagymnastics is a complex of active exercises with a fairly intense load on the muscles, respiratory, cardiovascular systems.
- During classes in the water, the baby’s ears can be immersed in water, after the exercises, do not forget to dry them.
- The duration of classes in the water with babies younger than 4 months in addition to general massage is about 5 minutes, for older children – up to 10 minutes.
- As an independent type of training, aquagymnastics is carried out for 15-20 minutes.
- Contraindications are: open umbilical wound, skin diseases, poor health and mood of the child, acute respiratory viral and other infections in the active phase (exacerbations), acute period of encephalopathy, rapid increase of intracranial hypertension, convulsions, deep prematurity of children (rapid cooling) and general contraindications related to the appointment of gymnastics and massage.
You should start teaching your baby to swim slowly and calmly. At first, we try to manifest swimming reflexes, which begin to fade after birth if the child does not swim. At first, we hold the baby with both hands: one hand supports the head and upper back, and the other – the chest area (in the position both on the back and on the stomach). Make sure that the child’s body is in the water, maintaining a horizontal position.
Classes begin with sliding along the surface of the water (along the bath, figure eight) and rocking. The baby’s ears may be in the water, when swimming on the chest, support the chin so that water does not get into the mouth. When you notice the appearance of rowing movements, one hand can be removed. Now you only support the baby’s head. This creates conditions for free movement of the arms and legs when swimming in a position on the stomach and back.
If the baby is happy to study in the water, you can start teaching him to hold his breath: pour the baby’s head and face with water captured by the hand from the bath. The baby will close his eyes and hold his breath for two or three seconds. Repeat at each lesson 3-4 times.
When the child is already sufficiently trained, learns to hold his breath and master the skill of rowing with his hands, you can teach the baby to swim independently. But this is a topic for a separate conversation, but for now your main goal is just to make friends with a crumb of water.
The set of exercises we offer is designed for self-performance at home.
- Backstroke swimming. At the same time, an adult supports the back of the child’s head with one hand, the other hand is under his back. Linear, zigzag movements back and forth are performed, with the legs pushing away from the edges of the bath.
- Belly swimming. Until the child has learned to hold his head well, he is supported by the head and neck on both sides. Older children in the position on their stomach are supported with one hand under the chin (according to the “bucket” type), with the other hand they hold the body.
- Swimming on the side. The head and torso of the child are located on the forearm of one adult hand, the second hand holds the handle of the baby.
- Older children can walk, bounce in the bathroom with the support of adults under their arms.
Do not forget that the most important thing in aquagymnastics classes (like any other) is a combination of benefits and pleasure, so do not try to do “as it should”, listen to the wishes of your baby, improvise and just enjoy the minutes of such pleasant communication. If you are not overly tense— your movements will become soft and confident, the baby will not show anxiety, and the exercises will bring only positive emotions to both of you.
Other types of children’s gymnastics
So you got acquainted with the most reliable and proven methods. However, there are several other types of gymnastics that parents can hear: these are baby yoga, dynamic gymnastics and mom yoga.
In the first case, we are talking about manual practice of getting rid of possible birth injuries in the first two weeks after the birth of a child, which is carried out only by a highly qualified specialist. The second is a set of acrobatic exercises aimed at correcting muscle tone and developing coordination and vestibular apparatus; training takes place in special classes with an instructor. In the third case, we are talking about mom’s yoga classes in the presence of a baby with a small number of asanas, in which the baby can participate without experiencing any physical exertion, but simply maintaining contact with mom.
Thus, all these types of gymnastics cannot be done at home without preparation. If you are interested in these types of physical activity and are determined to try them out, first consult with a pediatrician, neurologist and orthopedic surgeon, weigh all the pros and cons and be trained by a certified instructor.
Movement is life! And great joy
We talked about the importance of motor activity in the first year of a child’s life and found out that gymnastics is able to minimize the negative consequences of lack of movement in infants. Movement is directly related to mental development at this age, since the baby receives basic information about the world through sensory perception channels. Gymnastics in all its diversity gives an impetus to the enrichment and expansion of these channels. And the more opportunities to learn are available to a child, the more complete a picture of the world is formed in his mind and the more successfully he will cope with the tasks that life will set for him.
No matter how you are engaged with your baby, no matter which type of gymnastics you choose for yourself, the main thing is that you remember why you started practicing with your child. If there are indications for therapeutic massage, you should entrust the matter to the hands of a professional. If there are none and you decide to take classes at home, it’s because you want your baby to be healthy and happy.
Let home gymnastics be not only and not so much a good physical workout for your child, but a way to live together with your baby wonderful moments of harmony, mutual understanding and quiet joy. We wish you and your baby good health!