Spring has sprung and summer is around the corner. That means more play time outdoors if you live in the area of the world with four seasons like we do. Our one-year-old and three-year-old definitely want to spend more time outside now that the weather has warmed up.
There are many choices for outdoor activities to do with young children. Our children like playing on our play set my husband constructed for them. There are a couple swings attached to the play set that get a lot of use from our kids. Our son loves swinging while our daughter is still a little cautious. This is partly due to the fact that they are at different stages of development. But it also has to do with vestibular input and stimulation.
Why is vestibular stimulation important?
The vestibular system is the sensory system that contributes the most to spatial orientation and balance. Its purpose is to coordinate movement with balance. We receive input to this system when we sense any change in the position, direction or movement of the head.
Vestibular receptors are located in the inner ear. Fluid in the inner ear is activated as we move, communicating to the central nervous system our position in space. Vestibular input via the receptors let us know if we are horizontal, vertical, upside down and so on. Vestibular input also lets us know whether we are at rest or moving, the speed at which we are moving, whether we are moving with or against gravity and the direction we are going.
Vestibular information contributes to the development of different areas of our bodies such as muscle tone, posture, balance and overall alertness. Providing movement activities that stimulate the vestibular system are important for your child’s overall development.
Stimulation via swinging
Our daughter had poor muscle tone for the first few months of her life. Her pediatrician initially recommended genetic testing. Before we went that route, another early childhood specialist suggested we have her ears tested for fluid. After two sets of ear tubes which drained the fluid, her muscles have become much stronger.
The excess amount of fluid in her ears had a huge impact on her movement. She avoided much movement because we are pretty sure it made her dizzy. She was usually off balance and would easily fall over. Lack of movement resulted in muscles that were not being used and toned. This naturally led to some developmental delays.
Since our son hasn’t had issues with ear fluid, he doesn’t have any difficulties with extreme movement and seeks activities, such as swinging, that stimulate his vestibular system.
Our daughter doesn’t enjoy swinging and so we are working with her slowly and cautiously to conquer her aversion of extreme movement activities. She is working with a physical therapist to close her developmental gaps as well as help her with activities that will stimulate her vestibular system without overwhelming her.
Talk with your doctor, if your child demonstrates an aversion to swinging or other movement activity. It could be that your child has excess ear fluid and that can have a huge effect on many areas of development.
Swinging is one of the recommended activities to help stimulate a child’s vestibular system. The extreme back and forth movement is helpful in developing coordination, balance, posture and muscle tone.
Safe and Durable
It is important that swings are safe and keep your child secure. There are several different designs of swings. Each of these designs are different, but effective in keeping little ones safe.
One design has a high back and a full bucket. The high back supports the child as well as keeps him from falling out. The bucket seat is designed to support your child as he sits and swings.
This swing is perfect for young children learning how to swing. It has the option of being added to a swing set, jungle gym, or other outdoor play set.
Another design option for a durable toddler swing is the Little Tikes swing that we purchased for our children.
We like the shoulder straps and the hinged T-Bar that help hold our toddler daughter safely in place. As children get older, you can use just the shoulder straps and the T-Bar will store away.
I noticed today that part of the T-Bar had broken off so we will have to replace the swing. It is made out of very durable plastic. However, after three years of use along with being exposed to many outdoor elements, it is showing it has had all it can endure.
I would still recommend it, though, if you are looking for a safe and durable option that can be attached to a tree or a play set.
Toddlers grow so fast and soon outgrow their swing. You can purchase another swing that is designed for older children or you can invest in this QuadPod Adjustable Swing by TP Toys. This swing has four modes featuring different supports that grow with your child.
The first mode is the Cocoon Seat which features neck support for babies as young as 6 months of age.
If something more natural and non-toxic is up your alley, you will be interested in these eco-friendly baby and toddler swings. Not only are these swings good for the environment, they are designed to keep your child safe and secure, too. I love the simple, but elegant beauty of both of these natural made swings.
The design of this wooden toddler swing reminds me of a rocking horse. Instead of rocking your child will be soaring high on this chemical free toddler swing.
This is the perfect swing if you are looking for an environmentally friendly swing with all natural materials.
This safe swing is designed for children ages 6 months to 3 years of age.
It can be used indoors as well as outdoors and is sealed with a non-toxic varnish to protect it from all types of weather conditions.
Another eco-friendly swing is the Solvej swing. This design is simple, but yet so elegant. It is made from natural durable timber, non-toxic paint and canvas that is rot proof.
This versatile swing can be used both indoors and outdoors. It features an incorporated safety belt to keep children ages 6 months to 6 years secure.
I love how this high quality swing comes with a 9 year guarantee because that proves to me how durable and lasting this beautiful swing is.
When considering what outdoor toys for toddlers to buy this summer, make sure that a quality swing is at the top of your list. There is so much your little one has to benefit from swinging. There are many options for baby and toddler swings so there is no reason to not provide this important movement activity for your child. Now get outside and go swing!