Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Term 6 Week 3. Baby Bumpkin's Yoga Activity for this Week is Rolling Fish!

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist

In this weekly blog I focus on our Baby Bumpkin ‘Yoga Activity of the Week’. Below is a description on how to do the pose with your baby at home along with all its benefits.

Please remember though, for you and your baby, to gain the full benefit of all the Baby Bumpkin Yoga and multi-sensory activities, find out about your local Baby Bumpkin class at Our qualified Baby Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in aspects of baby development and Baby Yoga and are kept fully up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians.

Or, maybe, you are thinking of a new career, which gives you:
  • the opportunity to work with kids
  • a great sense of job satisfaction and
  • flexible working to fit around your own family?
In which case - find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at

The Baby Bumpkin Multisensory Yoga Adventure This Week ..

Maybe it’s because it’s nearly Glastonbury but mostly because it’s SO good for us - this week in the Baby Bumpkin classes we are doing the rolling Fish pose, so ‘Let the good times roll!’ 

Baby Bumpkin and his friends are splashing in the river when they come across a tiny fish.
The tiny fish invites everyone to the big ‘Funny Fish Flap!’ where everyone has to roll like a fish, gobble like a fish and make funny fish faces!

Why not come along and have a go at rolling Fish pose with Baby Bumpkin – a Paediatric Occupational Therapist colleague feels that rolling is as important as tummy time for a baby. And it’s fun too! Find your local class at

And that's not all! Because each Baby Bumpkin adventure is carefully linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) the sessions not only enhance your baby’s physical skills they also develop their early communication, social and thinking skills.  
In this week’s story your baby will have the chance to:

  • Develop their co-ordination skills as they ‘have a go’ with Baby Bumpkin at the rolling Fish pose.
  • Start to gestures or simple words to express their thoughts i.e.
  1. Feeling ‘surprised’ with Baby Bumpkin when he finds a tiny fish
  2. Feeling ‘happy’ with Baby Bumpkin as he takes part in the ‘Funny Fish Face’ competition with all his friends. 
  • Start to make early choices i.e. What kind of ‘Funny Fish Face’ they are going to make?
  • Develop their sense of rhythm as they move with you the river frog to the Baby Bumpkin Frog song.
  • Most important of all - have fun with their friends in the Baby Bumpkin story as they: run down the hills, wriggle on their tummies,  and of course roll with the fishes!

Fish Pose for Younger Babies

Baby Fish Pose!

 Description of Pose

N.B. Remember, when you are doing the poses with your baby, never force the movements and keep looking at your baby to make sure they are comfortable. If you feel any resistance, or your baby becomes unsettled, do stop. Once your baby has settled, gently try the pose again, perhaps making clicking sounds or using a toy to distract them. If your baby remains unsettled, do not persist with the pose, instead ask your Baby Bumpkin teacher for advice.

This adaptation of Fish pose is ideal if your baby is 3 mths old or younger and is still learning how to fully control their head by themselves. 
  • Settle on the floor with your baby. Sit on a cushion for comfort and stretch your legs out in front of you. To support your back you may find it easier to sit up against a wall.
  • Reassure your baby by smiling and looking at them. Then gently lie your baby down on their side across your thighs so they are facing you.
  • Support your baby with your hands around their shoulder and neck area and across their hips.
  • If your baby is younger:
  1. Make sure that their head is well supported on your thighs.
  2. You will have to give them more support around the back of their neck and shoulders and down their spine.
  3. Make sure they can look at you! See picture above.
  • Starting with your baby in this side lying position; gently rock them a little way towards you and then back to the starting position. As you do this, encourage and soothe your baby, continue to talk to them and keep good eye contact with them.
  • To progress Fish pose.
  • Start with your baby lying on their side across your thighs, as above.
  • This time gently roll them a quarter turn away from you so they temporarily lose eye contact with you.
  • As they turn away from you, your baby will have a chance to look out at the world by themselves – this one of their first step towards gaining independence.

Fish Pose for Older Babies

Bigger fishes rolling down the river!

Description of Pose

It is important for your baby to have good head control before you try this adaptation of Fish pose with them i.e wait until they are able to raise thier heads up when lying on their tummy on the floor. 

You will find controlling your baby with your hands in the rolling movements of Fish pose takes some practice! As long as your baby is happy, it is worth trying the pose with them for short periods during their day. Hopefully you will find that both you and your baby quickly become more comfortable with the pose. If you have any queries do not hesitate to ask your Baby Bumpkin teacher.
  • Settle on the floor with your baby. Sit on a cushion for comfort and stretch your legs out in front of you. To support your back you may find it easier to sit up against a wall.
  • Reassure your baby by smiling and looking at them. Then gently lie your baby down on their side across your thighs so they are facing you.
  • Support your baby with both your hands around their shoulders and down their back.
  • Rock your baby gently back and forth,  as described in the younger version of Fish pose (see above), to give then a chance to get used to the rolling sensation.
  • Start by gently doing one full roll with your baby down your legs, so they are rolling from your thighs towards your shins. Then roll them back towards you to the starting position.
  • During the roll:
  1. Stabilise your baby’s uppermost shoulder (the 'rolling' shoulder) with one hand and
  2. Move your baby from their hips with your other hand.
  • As mentioned above you may find you will need practise to synchronise these two actions with your baby!
  • To progress Fish pose further - try rolling your baby further down your legs towards your feet and then back up towards you. 

Other Games to Play in Fish Pose

Swimming down the Stream!

  • There are many ways to gently encourage your baby to roll. Below are two suggestions. As with all the Baby Bumpkin poses and activities we encourage you to initially give your baby the support they need to experience a new movement and then to gradually reduce the amount of support you give them so they learn to do the movement by themselves. 
  • Before you roll your baby take time to feel the shape of your own rib cage compared with your baby’s. You will notice that your baby’s rib cage is much rounder than yours. This is because they have not yet sat or stood up against gravity for long periods. Keep this ‘roundness’ in mind as you help your baby to roll - the action is more like rolling a ball rather than flipping a pancake!
  • However - Rolling can be a frightening experience for your baby so:
  1. Don’t rush the movement or try to do it with your baby if they are very young and clearly not ready for the experience – you do not want to put them off! Just rock them to and fro, in and out of side lying.
  2. Make it enjoyable for your baby and yourself i.e. keep smiling and reassuring your baby using both your voice and your hands.
  3. Let your baby feel ‘in control’ as much as possible i.e. encourage them to start the movement by tempting them to roll towards a favourite toy (see previous suggestions).
  4. Roll your baby little and often during the day i.e. when you lie them down for a nap or pick them up, roll them gently onto their side as you do – this gives them the chance to get used to that rollin’ feelin’ without being frightened of it! 

Rolling - Nos 1

  • Settle your baby on their back, on a mat, on the floor in front of you. Along with a favourite, chewable, toy – this is your ‘fish’!
  • Gently wave the toy (fish) in front of your baby so they make eye contact with it. Then they slowly draw the toy over to the side you wish your baby to roll. Keep the toy above the level of your baby’s shoulder as this will guide their body into a good rolling position. 
  • Your baby may reach up for the toy - this will help them as their arms are free. If they do this keep the toy just out of their reach and move it further over to the side you wish them to roll.  If your baby does not reach up, gently move their ‘under’ arm above their head so it does not block the roll or get trapped underneath.
  • Hopefully your baby will firstly follow the movement of the toy with their eyes, then they will turn their head towards it and finally they may start to roll their body over as well.
  • Give your baby a little help in their roll by providing them with support down their back, under their uppermost shoulder and hip. In this way you help them to move their uppermost arm and leg over to the desired side.
  • Once your baby has rolled over onto their tummy – give them loads of praise and let them play with their toy!  

Here we go - ready to roll!

Rolling – Nos 2

Rolling to the RIGHT
  • Settle your baby on the mat as above. Gently rock them a little way to either side several times to prepare them for the roll!
  • Gently bend your baby’s left leg so their knee is close to their tummy and keep their knee in this position using your left hand.
  • Then place your right hand under your baby’s left shoulder and arm to gently guide your baby to roll i.e. as your baby rolls guide their left knee & shoulder over to the right - in the direction of the roll.

‘Why Fish Pose is Good for Your Baby’

Fish pose is all about introducing your baby to rolling or helping them refine this skill.

However, rolling is an incredibly complex! To roll your baby has to:

  • Organise several of their senses at the same time i.e. their visual, tactile and vestibular senses.
  • Develop the appropriate control and coordination of their muscles.. 

Consequently, as they roll, your baby will be developing both their sensory and movement systems. They will be learning not only how to organise these systems but also how to bring them together for refined, coordinated actions.

A Word on Rolling 

Rolling may be the first way your baby moves – what a feeling of independence! It will also provide a foundation for other more complex co-ordination skills such as ‘crossing the midline’ and right/left side coordination.
  •  At about 3 mths of age your baby may have their first experience of rolling -maybe from their back onto their side. In most cases this is accidental as it occurs when they turn their head to one side and their body automatically follows.  
  • From about 3 ½ to 5 mths your baby may start to roll from their tummy into side lying, they may even roll completely over! However these early rolling experiences are once again largely accidental and they can be quite frightening for your baby. At this age they are likely to feel completely out of control! For this reason your baby may not frequently do this movement deliberately even though at 5mths they may actually be able to do it.  If your baby is around this age, the scenario below may be familiar to you – 
    Your baby is lying on their tummy and propping themselves up on their forearms.
    As they reach for a toy they shift their weight onto one shoulder, let’s say their left. Because your baby does not have sufficient control yet in their shoulder to support their weight, their arm collapses under their chest.
    At this point, if your baby is younger and their head control is less mature, they may try to regain their balance by extending their head and indeed their whole body. As they push their head backwards, their head blocks them from rolling completely over and they stop in a side lying position.
    If your baby is a little older, say 4 &1/2 mths, they will have more control of their head and, as a result, they may not extend their head backwards so much  if they fall onto their side. With their head more in the middle they may roll completely over. 

    Generally babies tend to roll from their tummy onto their back before they roll from their back onto their tummy. This is because rolling from their back onto their tummy requires more control. We are all different  but your baby may start to roll from their tummy onto their back at around 5 mths and from their back onto their tummy at about 6 mths.
  • So, aged around, six mths, your baby may learn to roll from their back onto their tummy! Congratulations to them! To do this they have to flex (bend forwards), rotate and bend sideways!
    Interestingly, your baby will develop their own special way of rolling and they will continue to use this pattern again and again so they become ‘super-efficient’ at it. Why not look closely at your baby/toddler to see which method they prefer to use. Two examples:

    1. Your baby is lying on their back and they start to roll by pushing with the foot on the side they are rolling away from i.e. if your baby is trying to roll to their right they will push off with their left foot. As they push with this foot they will straighten up (extend) their leg and body on this side. As they move through their roll they will bring their trailing leg forward to keep their momentum going.
    2. Your baby is lying on their back and they start to roll by bending up their hip and knee on the side they are rolling away from at the same time they take their arm on this side out to the side i.e. if your baby is trying to roll to the right they will bend their left hip and knee up and will take their left arm out to the side. They will also curl their body forward and twist so they are pushing with their body against the floor. As they pass through side lying they will straighten (extend) their body to help control the last part of the roll so they land gently on their tummy!

    Do not worry if your baby is older and they have not quite grasped rolling – sometimes it just takes a little longer. However do keep giving them opportunities to roll during their day - as learning to roll has so many benefits.

    Love Baby Bumpkin x

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