Have you noticed that your child sits with their legs in a “W” position? Or that your toddler struggles with kicking a ball or climbing the stairs? All of these issues can be related to core weakness. When a child’s abdominal, gluteal, and/or latissimus dorsi muscles are not as strong as they should be, he or she will struggle with balance both when they are sitting or standing. Targeting these muscle groups through intentional play can help them gain strength and achieve new milestones.
What we recommend
Today’s blog talks about my favorite chunky puzzles from Melissa and Doug. I could talk for hours about all the ways that we can use these simple and inexpensive puzzles in therapy (Grab yours on Amazon for less than $10). But in the interest of keeping it simple, I thought I would list my top three physical therapy games that involve this versatile toy.
- Baby squats: I have talked about this activity in the “When will my baby walk blog” (add link), but it is an easy favorite for my tiny friends who are working to build early leg strength. To play, place the puzzle board on an ottoman or coffee table and scatter the pieces on the floor. Have your child squat down to collect the pieces one at a time and place them in the puzzle board. This works on all the essential core muscles to help get your baby moving.
- If a child is a little older, I like to use this puzzle as a motivator to complete a more challenging balance task. I will put the board at one end of a tunnel or a balance beam (taping a straight line on the floor with painters tape). The child will then go back and forth to retrieve a piece and place it in the puzzle board. This way we can get in lots of repetitions to improve endurance without the child losing interest in the task.
- Another great way to use the puzzle for core strength is to have your child sit on a balance ball in front of a coffee table. You can place the puzzle board in front of them but make a game out of reaching for the puzzle pieces. They can reach high, low, side to side. This will help to improve their dynamic balance which is essential for coordination and higher-level skills.
How we can help
Core strength is important from a young age so that your child can continue to build their skills and reach their goals! If you have any concerns with your child’s seated posture or you feel that they are “clumsy”, a free screening is always available to you to discuss your concerns and assess your child’s strength. We are available in the clinic and in your home. If you are looking for the best pediatric therapy near you, click here.