Why a Balance Board is so Brilliant
To adults, a balance board might look like a curved piece of wood. But to children, it’s an open-ended play toy, offering endless opportunities for functional play. In fact, you can use this versatile toy from 8-months old and well into your little boy or girl’s childhood. Read on to learn why the balance board is such a brilliant toy for small children and get ideas for exercises that help develop their motor skills.
- Playing with a balance board improves your child’s: Balance, which is essential for crawling, walking, running, jumping, etc.
- Overall body control and coordination of movements.
- Parachute reflex (the reflex to avoid falling).
- Creative thinking, as the board can be used for just about anything your child can think of.
- Balance boards can be used for babies from 8 months and well into their childhood.
What are the Key Developmental Benefits?
A balance board helps strengthen your child’s sense of balance, coordination, and parachute reflex (which is the reflex to avoid falling) – all skills required for crawling, walking, running, jumping, and so on. Expert in children’s motor development, Mette Vainer Wegloop, explains what happens when children play with a balance board:
“When your little child gets on a balance board, whether it’s in a sitting position, on all fours, or standing, the board’s movements will stimulate your child’s vestibular and proprioceptive systems. The vestibular system in our inner ear is responsible for our balance, while proprioception is our subconscious ability to adjust our body position to external surroundings. For instance, when I walk down the street, I subconsciously adjust my feet to bumps in the road.”
The more your child plays with their balance board, the easier it gets for them to coordinate body movements and flex the right muscles at the right times. And once your child starts walking, the balance board still challenges them to think creatively. For example, you will find this open-ended play toy makes an excellent tunnel for toy trains, cars, and the like.
How to Use a Balance Board
You can balance on it, sit on it, jump from it, build with it – the opportunity for play is limited only by your child’s imagination. Mette Vainer Wegloop uses balance boards in her work as a children’s Occupational Therapist and below are her favourite exercises for training little children’s physical strengths and motor skills.
8 Months – 1 Year:
“You can use a balance board from your baby turns 8 months. Place the balance board as a downward facing mouth and let your baby crawl on top of it. Then have your baby slowly crawl or glide down on the other side. This will teach your crawling baby to get around obstacles.
Place the board as an upward facing mouth and have your baby stand on all fours while you gently rock the board from side to side. This will strengthen your baby’s balance and body control.”
1 – 2 Years:
“Place a balance board as a downward facing mouth and let your little one walk across the board while you support your child’s hips. With a soft toy between the fingers, this balancing and walking exercise gets even more challenging.
Place the board as an upward facing mouth and have your baby stand on all fours, or on their feet (with your help), and gently rock the board from side to side. This will strengthen your baby’s balance and body control.”
2 – 3 Years:
“Place a balance board as an upward facing mouth and let your toddler experiment with rocking the board from side to side, either sitting, standing, or a combination. This is great for your child’s balance and gross motor skills.
Place the board as a downward facing mouth and let your child jump down from the top. You can also invent a game where you throw little balls or bean bags into a container, improving their aiming and throwing skills. This trains your child’s gross motor skills and precision skills.”
3 – 4 Years:
“At this age, your child uses balance boards creatively and independently. Perhaps it’s fun to sit or lie down on the back and get the board swinging, using only one’s legs to kickstart the movements. Or perhaps the board can be used for a game of “floor is lava” – it’s all about the imagination!”
Meet our Team of Experts
One expert is an experienced family advisor who has met hundreds of Danish families. Another expert has dedicated his entire life to researching children's well-being and development through play. And some of the other experts specialise in children's motor skills, sensory integration, and learning. Together, they inspire us to provide your children with better sleep, develop them through play, and support them when they study.
At FLEXA Insight, you will find all the experts’ valuable insights, tips, and ideas.