Saturday, October 20, 2012

Everyday Therapy: Movement therapy inside the home

Sleeping baby

When we lived in San Francisco Bay Area, the weather was almost always good enough to go outside every single day.  Winter weather was really somebody else's Fall weather.  So it was never a problem finding a playground to get our sensory integration treatment...especially the swing.

New England weather is not going to be the same.  Extreme weather conditions may become our reality.  So I've been creating a veritable OT Gym inside our apartment.  My first priority was to install a swing, without creating gaping holes, yet safe for my little guy.

Ikea has been my favorite furniture store since they invaded the States with their amazing build your own furniture system.  They also have a great children's section, including this swing.  It no longer seems to be on their online catalog, but they had it in the store.  I grabbed one before I even knew if I could install it.

Baba was afraid of it at first.  However, he's intense curiosity overcame his fear and eventually asked to swing by standing in front of it and looking at me.  He promptly fell asleep.  He has been taking a nap in this swing ever since.  He also falls asleep in it, before being put to bed.

It's definitely not Sensory Integration Therapy, but it's certainly relaxing and comforting.  He has figured out when he needs to sleep and will now ask to swing when he wants to sleep.  Amazing!  It's been really wonderful to see that he is learning to read his own body and taking action to fill his own needs.

Ikea swing with platform swing
I didn't know that the air bag was sold separately, so I had to improvise using a small platform swing I bought on Amazon.  Eventually, I will buy the air bag and use the platform swing separately.  But for son thinks it's his sleeping tent.  I'm okay with that.

Since Baba is so small and this was not a clinic, I chose to use the Ikea attachments to install the swing, using very heavy duty screws.  It turned out, that our ceiling is held up with steel beams.  So I feel extremely safe with this arrangement.

If you plan to put up a swing, make sure to get a very knowledgeable person to help out.  It's important that they take into account the amount of pressure exerted on the screws as the swing moves.  In a clinic setting, we usually account for 1000 pounds of pressure.  It's strong enough for an adult to use the swing safely.  Our swing would probably take 300 pounds of pressure, safe for up to a 50 pound child.  Since Baba is 28 pounds, this is good enough for now. 

If your child will be using the swing, independently, more safety measures may be necessary.  I bought attachments from Southpaw Enterprises, so I can take the swing down easily.  If you have plenty of room for putting up a swing and leaving it there, you won't need anything fancy. 

I'll be posting more information on using the swing as therapy soon, but I thought I'd put this idea out there.  Apartment Therapy has a great "do it yourself" post on putting up a simple swing here.  Design Mom's "Living with Kids" series showed one home with three swings in the playroom here.

So if you have an area with 6 feet radius of free space, consider putting in a swing for the long winter months.  It might just make you a parental star in the eyes of your child!


  1. Great information, Bea. We actually have that IKEA swing, just haven't hung it yet. But seeing those pictures of your sweet one sleeping in it motivates me to get it up and see if it relaxes Lily, too. And your links are super helpful, too.

    Hmmm..... think I need to get to work on converting our upstairs space that no one uses into a great OT/indoor play space for Lily.

    1. I'm sure she would love it. The Ikea swing was comforting to most of my students...80% of them were diagnosed on the spectrum. It's a great place to decompress and reduce stimuli.

      She might start seeking to regulate herself...a great skill...for all of us.


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