What is OT for Infants?
Many parents are shocked to learn that services for Occupational Therapy exist for infants too! Infant Occupational Therapy is a branch of OT that focuses specifically on the development of infant motor skills, as well as the development of cognitive skills through play. Occupational Therapy for infants is an effective way to help babies develop the skills they need to be successful in everyday activities.
First Year: A Critical Period for Brain Development
During the early years of a child’s life, specifically the first year, a child’s brain will double in size! The first year is a critical period of brain development for your child. During this time, your baby’s brain will develop rapidly and then continue to develop throughout the different stages of their childhood. With this in mind, the fundamental ideas they learn during this critical period have a huge impact.
Choosing Occupational Therapy for your infant can ensure they meet developmental milestones, fostering a path for success as they age.
Common Infant Occupational Therapy Activities
Occupational Therapy activities for babies are focused on developmental milestones. One important aspect is tummy time, where the baby lays on their stomach frequently. This helps babies learn to use the muscles of their neck and shoulders, while encouraging balance and coordination.
Another activity involves reaching and grasping for objects, which works on fine motor skills. In addition, floor play can help babies learn gross motor skills. Occupational Therapy activities for infants might also include tasks that develop a baby’s senses, such as touch and sight. To do this, babies are encouraged to touch different textures to enhance their senses. Music is another way to enhance an infant’s hearing! Another option is to play with babies in a mirror, which can help infants to develop a sense of “self”.
What Can an Occupational Therapist for Babies Help With?
An Occupational Therapist can offer a helping hand for parents concerned about their babies development. A trained OT will assess your infant’s abilities based on their age and adapt activities accordingly. Infant Occupational Therapy may include tips to make tummy time easier or teaching babies how to roll over, grab things, and master hand-eye coordination.
An OT can also offer parents advice on positioning of babies that will help encourage positive results. A licensed Occupational Therapist can also assess your infant’s ability to watch, listen, and make basic movements. Based on the specific needs of your infant, an Occupational Therapist can step in and offer parents support and encouragement.
Why Might an Infant Need Occupational Therapy?
Each infant will develop at different rates, as there is no “one size fits all” approach. However, there are general guidelines for development to consider. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, it may be worth considering an Infant Occupational Therapy assessment:
- Infant cannot grasp or hold objects
- Baby cannot visually track moving objects
- Not meeting gross motor milestones (sit, standing, rolling)
- Baby uses one side of body more than
- Baby seems weaker than other babies of the same age
- Feeding or swallowing disorders
Remember, none of these signs suggest there is anything wrong with your baby. Some babies need Occupational Therapy to encourage their development! If you’re not sure if your baby needs OT, we’re here to help! The Therapy Place offers comprehensive assessments by our highly-educated and skilled staff. This service can help parents like you determine if your infant will benefit from Infant Occupational Therapy. Research suggests that early intervention through OT can help set your child up for optimal success.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Infants
Occupational Therapy can help make sure your baby reaches important developmental milestones at the right stages. These include things like rolling over, crawling, walking, and more. As mentioned above, the first year of life is a time of rapid brain development. Intervening if you notice delays can help your child get on the right track before they get older. In turn, this prepares your baby for success in the future at home, school, and more.
In addition, Occupational Therapy for infants also promotes learning. Infants are naturally curious and OT can expand that! Your child will interact with the world around them in a developmentally appropriate way through Infant Occupational Therapy.
Infant Occupational Therapy at The Therapy Place
Looking for Infant OT services? Check out The Therapy Place online for more OT activities specific to your child’s age and stage of development. The Therapy Place can be a helpful resource for parents looking for ways to incorporate Occupational Therapy activities into their infant’s routine.