The Benefits of Play on the Floor with Bree Milani
From tummy time, to crawlers to little ones that are full on standing, Bree Milani, Occupational Therapist and Founder of Sprout and Thrive, joins Moms on Call to discuss the benefits of floor play for our littles.
Did you know that the benefits of floor time play extend far beyond tummy time?
It’s true! Tummy time is a great position to build up your baby’s neck, shoulder and arm muscles but more importantly, they’re building up their core muscles which lay the foundation for rolling, sitting, reaching, feeding, crawling, and even standing!
Playing on the floor has a positive domino effect on a baby’s brain development including their sensory, nervous, and motor systems. Studies have shown that babies learn through trial and error so the more experiences they have on the floor, the quicker their little bodies develop and advance the skills that lead to the next milestone. Play on the floor strengthens the core which lays a strong foundation for the arms, legs, hands, feet, and mouth to reach, walk, and talk.
As a fellow busy parent, a seasoned pediatric therapist, and the Founder of Sprout and Thrive, it’s important to me to help parents understand WHY building a strong foundation for their baby’s sensory, motor and cognitive development is important and to give simple, HOW-TO-HELP solutions for already busy days. I’ve developed a curriculum, “The Floor Builds the Core™“ to help busy parents, like you and me, add simple play ideas into their days to help their babies thrive.
Want all of my science-backed but simple play ideas in one spot? Want to skip around from rolling to sitting, to first steps without thinking about it? Need video tutorials and examples of HOW to play with your baby while you also support their development? I’ve got you covered in the Caregiver Academy with TONS of simple play ideas and positions to support your baby’s development from tummy time through first steps!
Floor Play Ideas:
For a Baby in Tummy Time
- Put your baby on the floor, belly down, and place a mirror in front of them.
- Talk to, sing, and make silly faces at your baby as they pick their head up to look for you.
For a Rolling Baby
- Place toys on a diagonal above your baby’s head and give the toys a shake to gain their attention.
- This will encourage your baby to look and reach and that will drive them to roll.
For a Sitting Baby
- Give your baby toys at different heights (belly, shoulders, above their head).
- Give them toys from the right and the left to encourage turning and reaching in all directions.
- This strengthens the core and supports the next milestone of crawling. Want more ideas on how to play in sitting?
- Check out my other guest post for MOC on wobbly sitting.
For a Crawling Baby
- Playing with a ball is a great way to encourage your baby to go get the toy, play, hit it, and chase it!
- Babies learn through repetition and balls give so many opportunities for continued learning!
For a Standing Baby
- Put a bucket or box up on the couch or low table and toys (shape sorter pieces, bath toys, whatever is lying around) down on the floor.
- Encourage your baby to squat down, pick up the toy and put it on the couch, or throw it on the couch (I’m a mom too, remember).
- The repetitive squatting helps strengthen the legs for those long awaited first steps.
I’d love for you to join the Sprout and Thrive Tribe on Instagram (@_sproutandthrive) or at www.sproutandthrive.com. We’re all about empowering caregivers with knowledge and skills to support their baby’s development from infancy through their first steps. We have tons of simple, research-based play ideas on our blogs. Or, join our Caregiver Academy where we remove the worry of new parenthood and arm you with tools and how-to-help videos to confidently support your baby as they master motor milestones from newborn – first steps.
Bree has a Masters of Occupational Therapy and a Bachelors in Special Education and Rehabilitation. She has spent the last several decades working with families in outpatient, aquatic, and home-based settings specializing in early intervention, infant massage, and is certified in neurodevelopmental treatment. Bree co-founded a non-profit organization, www.pushinternational.org focused on serving thousands of underprivileged families with special needs in Mexico and teaching hands-on curriculum to 40+ teams of therapy students. Bree loves to travel the world. She’s a wife, mother to a busy toddler, and a young baby. She has curated her years of knowledge and research-based experiences into parent friendly, play-based activities and resources to help caregivers and infants thrive.