Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wearing Baby and Sensory Integration Part 3

If you haven't read it yet, here's part 1 and part 2.

Wearing your baby can have therapeutic benefits, especially if your baby has sensory issues.  Baba is sensitive to vestibular (movement) input.  It's hard because he also craves movement at the same time.  It's crucial that he receives the input he needs without making him sick.

Why is this important?  Vestibular input helps to organize the brain.  I can visually see this effect when I put Baba down after I've worn him for at least 30 minutes.  He will be alert, but calm and observant.  He will usually be happy to play by himself and he often seems ready to learn something new.

Vestibular based treatment can be tricky, especially if your child is also sensitive to it.  Occupational Therapists who are trained in Sensory Integration Methods, may use a swing to provide vestibular stimulation.  The swing can be manipulated to give the right kind and the right amount of movement.  For example, is your child sensitive to side to side, back and forth, up and down, circular, or a combination of movements?

This can be complicated by having to read whether your child is getting too much or too little input.  Most children with sensory processing issues aren't able to tell when they've had enough or they need more.  That's why a trained therapist should work with your child first so that she/he can tell you how to work with your child.

Southpaw Enterprises (click on photo)

Of course, most of us don't have that amazing swing...the super expensive therapy set-up at home.  At most, we have a swing that goes back and forth.  You can still use that, but if your child hates the back and forth movement, you might have to wait until the therapist has helped your child tolerate the back and forth movement.

Southpaw Enterprises (click on photo)

This is why wearing your baby may be the cheapest and easiest vestibular based treatment.  Most babies are used to the rhythmic walking pattern of their mom.  It's what they experienced in-utero.  This is simply a continuation.

When we walk, we naturally sway side to side and slightly bounce up and  down.  The difference between using a swing and wearing your baby is that you provide a natural rhythm and comfort.  Your body provides warmth, deep touch, and a sense of love and well being.

So how long and how often did I walk Baba?  I aimed at 2-3 hours a day, up until he was 9 months.  By 9 months, he was crawling, standing, and generally on the move most of the time.  This reduced the need to be carried, since he was able to somewhat satisfy his own vestibular needs.

In very general terms, boys tend to need more movement than girls, however, every child has their own needs.  Usually, you can tell if you've worn your baby long enough by their reaction when you put them down.  If they look calm and relaxed, it's a good sign.  You also want to see if your baby has periods of alert, but calm states.  This is when most of the learning happens.  It's also a sign that their brain is organized and not in sensory need state.

What type of sling/carrier did I use?  Well, if your baby suffered a stroke there are some positioning things to consider.  That's coming up in part 4.

Read part 4 here!


  1. What a great resource your blog is! I look forward to reading along and getting caught up with your story, too.

  2. Thank you. I look forward to reading yours as well.

  3. Great post! I have noticed that my daughter really benefits from baby wearing too. I try to make it a part of her therapy routine.

    1. That's great! Baby wearing can be an easy way to add therapy into our schedules. I still wear my little guy, even though he is able to walk. He really loves it!


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