How to play with your older baby on an exercise ball

Playing with your older baby on an exercise ball is a fun way to help strengthen postural muscles necessary for the development of higher level motor skills such as crawling, standing, and walking.

It’s also an easy way to provide more opportunities for movement and sensory input (especially if they seek out ways to move their in different positions a lot or you have limited space in your home).

Depending on how old they are, you can play with them by laying them on their tummy or sitting them on their bottom while you roll, rock, and gently bounce them on the ball. Make sure you’re safe with them by having a good hold on their midsection (between hips to armpits), stabilizing the ball as necessary, only moving them as much as their neck and back muscles can handle, and following their lead for how comfortable they are with the different types of movements.

Don’t let your little one fall off the ball, and don’t use the ball near any corners or hard surfaces such as coffee tables or fireplaces! 

You can use a regular exercise ball or, for added stability, you may find that an exercise ball filled sand is easier to control.

Take advantage of this opportunity to play with them, make eye contact, sing songs, and have fun!

Check out this video for a demo of different positions and movements you can do while baby is on the exercise ball (just FYI, baby in video is 13 months old, is just beginning to walk independently, and is a major sensory seeker who LOVES to be upside down):


Looking for ways to play with your younger baby (say, 2-6 months) on an exercise ball during tummy time?

No problem. Check out this post for ideas on how to use an exercise ball (or a beach ball, or your shins) to help your little baby actually ENJOY tummy time…now that’s a concept!

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Mama OTIn addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.

Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!

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Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 
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