Help! My baby tilts his head to one side all the time! Activities you can do NOW to help your baby.

Why does my baby tilt her head to the same side all the time?

There are a few possibilities for why babies might have a preference for head tilt to one side.

  • The way the baby was positioned in utero. The baby may have been cramped in the same position for a long time.  This is often the case with multiples.  If this happens, the baby’s neck muscle can become shortened and the baby will end up with a preference for tilting his head to one side after birth. If the baby is cramped the baby’s head can also develop a flat spot according to the forces that are on it, therefore the baby’s head is flat on one side from the position in utero and the baby rotates head to the flat spot after birth.
  • The way the baby prefers to lay after birth. Babies do not have the strength to hold their head in the middle after birth, depending on how the baby is positioned, he may have a preference to hold his head to one side in the bassinette or the bouncy seat.  If the baby does this to the same side all the time, then the baby’s muscles will become tight and result in asymmetrical head position.  Check out the blog post Take Caution with Elevated Sleeping for Baby on at www.babiesfirstfitness.com.
  • True Torticollis. A true torticollis is when a baby has a fast delivery or is pulled out quickly.  The Sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck has some trauma and as a result shortens causing the baby to tilt their head to one side and rotate their head to the opposite side.

 

Whatever the reason for the tilt is, it is important that you see a pediatric physical therapist to determine your child’s exact range of motion limitations, movement preferences and strength limitations as head tilt not only affects the head position, but affects development of the arms, legs and trunk as well. While you are waiting for your appointment with your Physical Therapist, you can try some of these suggestions based on your own observations.

 

My goal at www.babiesfirstfitness.com is to provide EVERYONE with exercises they can do NOW with their babies.  Therefore, I created this chart that you can start to use now while you are waiting for your evaluation or if your doctor has asked you to wait until the next visit to determine if your baby needs therapy.  The purpose of this chart is not to avoid physical therapy but rather to get a head start on what they might tell you at your first visit.

I have created a free printable chart for parents and professionals to guide you to activities you can do TODAY to help your baby progress her skills and prevent progression of the head tilt or head rotation preference.  Click on the link below to get your chart!

Click here for your free printable handout

 

Check out www.babiesfirstfitness.com and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook for more information on activities you can do today with your babies and toddlers to progress their development.

 

 

Printable Chart: The Progression of Gross Motor Skills in Early Childhood

Check out this free printable created by Babies First Fitness showing the progression of higher level gross motor skills in the Early Childhood population 3-5 year olds.

 

progression of early childhood chart

Progression of Early Childhood Skills – chart

If you notice that your child is lacking in any of these skills, check out babiesfirstfitness.com and like the page for continuously updated ideas on how you can improve your toddler’s strength and agility!  Also, please check out and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook!

 

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Toddler Time: Activities to Work on Standing on One Leg

It’s Toddler Time!

In celebration of Halloween my little friends have been working on Monster Kicking.

Put objects such as bowling pins on top of solo cups. Ask your toddler to kick the object instead of the cup. This encourages the toddler to stand on one leg longer, strengthens the muscles in the standing leg and improves balance strategies in the standing leg.

For more suggestions on promoting gross motor skills for your little ones, like this page and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook.

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Baby Time: Fun with Links

You may have received a bag of oval links at your baby shower from mother exclaiming “These are the best things ever!” You look at her with a puzzled look thinking, “How?”

Links are a great way to encourage your infant to be more active by bringing toys down to him. Use the links in combination with your baby gym. Link the ovals together until they are on the baby’s chest or near his hands. Place baby’s favorite rattle at the end of the links, or simply use the links themselves at the end. As your baby moves his arms randomly, he will inevitably touch the links causing the chain to move. This will gain his attention visually and he will move his head toward the visual stimulation. This activity strengthens the neck muscles and trunk muscles in preparation for independent head control as well as strengthens the arm muscles in preparation for active and accurate reaching.

If it is too difficult for your child to lift his arms off the ground when you do this activity, place him in a boppy pillow laying under the play gym, this will make it easier for him to lift his arms and contact the links.

When is the best time to start this activity? You can start a few weeks after baby’s birth, when he is alert enough for some play time!

For more suggestions on promoting gross motor skills for your little one, like this page and check out Babies First Fitness on Facebook.

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Toddler Time: Core Strength while sitting on a small ball

Click here to check out a video of core strength activities you can do NOW with your toddler

Core strength is essential to great movement patterns. It is never to early to start! Sitting on a ball causes your baby’s core and leg muscles to activate more than sitting in a solid surface.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I often use what a family has around their home to create my exercise programs. This video shows a sequence of activities that you can put into place today with your little one. All you need is a small playground ball for a toddler 18 months to 3 or a large playground ball for 4 to 5 year older, another ball and a puzzle.

In this video I start getting the little one comfortable sitting on the ball with a song. We follow that with play using both hands with a ball. I work in moving up down and rotating. The trick to getting a child to use both hands is providing a little resistance to the object so that they bring the other hand to help! We then work with a puzzle reaching in all directions.

This little one loved it and wanted more!

Have fun with your little one today and have purposeful play!

For more information on exercises to progress your babies and toddlers like this page and check out Babies First Fitness on Facebook.

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Toddler Time: The Power of Pushing

Toddler Time: The Power of Pushing

Often, as a Mom, I am looking for something to wear my kids out! Don’t underestimate the power of pushing!

Pushing activities are great for pre-walkers to older children. It is an activity that you can do with all of your kids. Pushing activities strengthen the muscles in the front and the back of the body in balance, this means that the abdominals and pectoral muscles are strengthened in balance with the hip extensors and back muscles. If you choose to push lower objects (see picture in comments) your child is lengthening his hamstrings and activating the muscles on the front of his foot (dorsiflexors). This is great for all those kids who walk on their toes out there!

There are so many ways to modify this activity and to make it fun for your entire family.
. Place objects around the house and have the kids push a laundry basket around to pick the objects up.
. Play choo-choo with your kids and have children push each other in those large Amazon boxes that all the holiday gifts arrive in!
. For more core work, push diaper wipes containers or wrapped diapers around and knock down a stack of blocks or cups.

The trick with this activity is that pushing a box or a laundry basket has more surface area and therefore is harder to push than something with wheels, make it harder for the older kids and a just right challenge for the toddlers.

Enjoy this great activity and tire those kids out indoors!

For more suggestions on promoting gross motor skills for your little one, like babiesfirstfitness.com. and check out Babies First Fitness on Facebook.

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Toddler Time: Arm and Core Strengthening Using the Stairs

Click here to check out a video of how to strengthen your toddler using the stairs in your own home!

As a pediatric physical therapist, I often work with many of my clients in their home. There is no better piece of exercise equipment in the home than the stairs!

One of my favorite exercises to do on the stairs is to have children walk on their hands up the stairs. Now, don’t get me wrong, if someone asked me to do this 5 times in a row I might be mad, however let me assure you most kids love it! They love the challenge, the fact that they can use their hands on the stairs and love the fun and excitement in whatever game you are playing.

This activity strengthens the arms and trunk. It also strengthens the hips and legs if you are holding a bit lower. Here are the steps:

– Grab a motivator, sometimes I use a stuffed animal and throw it up the stairs, other times I specifically place puzzle pieces in the stairs so we go up a few stairs at a time
– Place child’s hands on the stair
– Hold child by the pelvis
– Encourage child to go up the stairs to a puzzle piece or stuffed animal 5-12 steps away depending on your child’s strength.
– To make it easier for the child, hold child at the pelvis.
– To make it harder for the child, hold child below the pelvis

Your child can be ready for this activity anywhere between 18-24 months old and up. A good rule of thumb is if your child can walk in his or her hands on the floor while you hold their pelvis for 10 steps this is something you can start. Just be aware of your child collapsing their arms, we would not want him to hurt his face!

Enjoy this activity to wear your little ones out during crazy cooped up days! For more information on how to exercise your little one, like this page and check babies first fitness on Facebook.