A Sixth Sense? Vestibular System
We all know about the 5 senses we have. But did you know that there are actually 7 senses? If you have read my previous blog about #sensory play, you will ;). (Make sure to check out that post as well, I promise it will be worth it).
And as promised I will explain a bit more about the less known senses. The two other senses are called the #vestibular system and the #proprioceptive system. In this blog I want to focus on the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is our body's sense of balance and helps us to counter gravity, develop balance and control eye movements. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is a key part of our body. It makes sure that the right signals are send to the brain to assure the correct balance and spatial orientation when you are moving around.
It is the first system that receive all the information to then send it through the right senses and is therefore very important to function well in every day life.
Vestibular input is necessary for static and dynamic balance development, eye-tracking ability and motor planning. Some signs that suggest a poor vestibular development*:
- Poor balance
- Motion sickness beyond puberty
- Easily disorientated, poor sense of direction
- Poor muscle tone
- Delay in postural and motor milestones such as head control, sitting, crawling, and walking
- Difficulties in remaining still
- Difficulties in space perception
*These are only suggested signs, if your child shows any of these sign, this does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with his/her vestibular system.
Now one of the main questions that will probably pop up is: How can we stimulate and develop this vestibular system?
- Rocking backwards and forwards
- Going on a swing
- Spinning around
- Make an obstacle course for your little one to climb, crawl, jump, walk or roll over. (you can easily do this about home with pillows).
- Occupational Therapy
In this blog I will explain a bit more on how Baby Yoga can stimulate the vestibular system as that is my field of expertise.
Baby Yoga helps the development of the vestibular system by movement, drops, swings and dance. When your baby is gently being lifted up and down and gently being swung from left to right then the vestibular system is sending messages to the brains about whereabouts they are in space and how their current body position is. The brain then sends a signal to their muscles to ensure they do their job. The different holds and the variations of speed in movement is also a great way to develop the vestibular system as the baby's body can learn to distinguish the different speeds they are going in.
Some other benefits of Baby Yoga and the development of your baby's vestibular system are:
- Response the position of the head in relation to gravity.
- Voluntary control of the head.
- The strength and balance to sit and enjoyment of gentle and rough movement.
- The preparation for upright position.
When you introduce vestibular activities to your baby, make sure to do this gradually and
following your baby's pace. Your baby might not like going on the swing yet as it is a new sensation. So when you introduce the swing start with small movements for a short period of time.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and be sure to share it with other parents as it's such a vital sense, that needs the correct stimulation.