Why You Should Look At Your Baby’s Muscles

Our occupational and physical therapists sometimes want Noah to show off his muscles so they can see which ones he is engaging. Noah compensates with the wrong muscles to do certain activities, especially whe he is tired. Our occupational therapist is able to help Noah use the right muscles when she visualizes what is going on.

You can easily be tricked when he is fully clothed that he is doing a great job of holding his head up or sitting, when really he is using the wrong muscles to maintain the activity.  Children born with Down syndrome have a hard time keeping a muscle contracted for a long period of time.  We want to make sure the right muscles are contracting and holding his position.

How do you like my guns?


Noah is learning how to use his muscles together. So he may be able to hold his head up well, but holding his torso with his head while moving his arms is a total different story. He has to build the stability in his trunk in order to be able to use his arms and hands as a separate movement.  His oblique muscles get a workout every session in order to help him build this stability.

He works hard to develop that core!

I was reading one of the handy books from the resource page about fine motor skills that said if you put a child with poor tone in a chair which stabilized the trunk (think bumbo or high chair) they can then focus on using their hands more, but when sitting alone they likely cannot work on those activities until sitting alone is mastered

Do my eyebrows count?

The OT is also working on Noah sitting up straight and not hunching over and looking up at us by resting his head on his back. Noah gets his eyebrows up and I am fairly certain he thinks that means his entire head has been lifted up. That or they are going to drag the rest of his body up with them. It is pretty cute, and our occupational therapist cannot get enough of that face.  He just stares at her confused wanting to know why she doesn’t think he is doing what she is asking him to do.

Don't you see my eyebrows?



I remember waiting patiently for Noah to first look at us and then actually follow us around the room.  It seemed like it took weeks for him to figure out where we were.  I actually think it was around 8 weeks before he really did this well, and it worried me.  A typical infant fixes on their parents instantly and wants to stare at them.  We had to train Noah to do this.  The light up toy being used in the video is actually ideal to work on the skill of tracking. (Here are some more cheap, but effective developmental tools!)  If I had just had patience it would have saved me a lot of worry, as Noah can’t get enough of us now.

I asked our occupational therapist the other day when can we expect Noah to be able to hold a bottle on his own.  It is one task I would love for him to pick up as I get a little jealous when I see other kids drinking their bottle all by themselves (for my own benefit).  How nice it must be to just hand your bottle to your baby and he can take it himself.  I was thinking I would get an answer like use a smaller bottle, or we can adapt this way.  Nope, I have to be patient.  We can’t work on those tasks because we have not perfected the stabilization mentioned above.  We are getting there though, and I will continue to be patient, as I am beginning to discover Noah is determined to do anything we challenge him to do in his own time.

How old were your kiddos when they started holding their bottle.  Any tricks?

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  1. Nava didnt hold her bottle a very long time (like 10 mo old?) but really that was a good thing (looking to the bright side) because it meant we controlled the angle of the bottle and supported her to drink in the healthiest (least likely to contribute to ear infection, etc) way.
    Yet another little discussed plus of using playtex nursers (besides to oral motor stuff) is that the bottom is open and that makes them way easy to be held! Nava would have healed her bottle much earlier if we’d made the switch sooner!

  2. Barbara @therextras PT & OT says

    Very nice post, Noah’s Dad – or this one by Noah’s Mom?   I agree with (almost) everything.  If muscles at the neck are still lacking the coordination and endurance for more than a few minutes of  postural control – why challenge them so much with quadruped?  I choose to work much longer in upright (less gravitational pull). 

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