Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baby Bumpkin - Our Baby Activity for This Week is Giraffe Pose!

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

In this weekly blog I focus on our Baby Bumpkin ‘Posture of the Week’. Below is a description on how to do the pose with your baby or toddler along with some of 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 ..

This week the Baby Bumpkin Yoga Activity is ‘GIRAFFE’.

When you bring this fun activity into your baby’s day you will be helping them to not only stretch out and progress their reaching skills, but also to take bigger breaths and move their rib-cage encouraging good 'chest health'. 

In the classes Baby Bumpkin finds himself by a waterhole, surrounded by giraffes. 
The giraffe family love to stretch out their long necks and nibble at the acaia leaves – however there is one baby giraffe who finds the leaves just too prickly!

So Baby Bumpkin kindly takes little giraffe off to visit some other animals who live close by -  Maybe they might have some food which the giraffe would like?

This Baby Bumpkin adventure gives your baby the chance to: progress their physical skills, as they reach out in giraffe pose and roll on their tummies as crocodiles, and provides them with a ‘sensory feast’ as they investigate the ‘prickly fruit’ props and different leaf fabrics used in the story. Find your local class at

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 your baby’s early communication, social and thinking skills.   
In this week’s story your baby will have the chance to:

1. Activate their back, tummy, shoulder, and arm muscles as they gently stretch out and move in Giraffe pose.

2. Develop their awareness of the ‘midline of their body’ and early roiling skills as they do Crocodile pose.

3. Progress their early reaching and sensory organisation skills, as they explore the textured ‘prickly leaf’ props.

4. Develop their early communication skills whilst:
  • Looking at and following simple gestures for ‘happy’, ‘sad’ then ‘happy’! 
  • Playing with you to the Baby Bumpkin Crocodile song.
5. Start to make early choices i.e.
  • How to play and interact with the prickly leaf props? 
  • Whether to move quickly, or a little slower, whilst looking for the Lion!?
6. Develop their sense of rhythm as they move with you to the Baby Bumpkin Crocodile and Lion songs.   

7. Most important of all - have fun with their friends, and you, in the Baby Bumpkin session as they: stretch up high round the blue 'water hole' in Giraffe pose, go on a lion hunt and play with the leaf and fruit props together!  


Giraffe Pose for Younger Babies

Reach up high!!

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 Giraffe pose is suitable if your baby is younger and is not yet able to sit up by themselves.
  • Settle your baby on their back on the floor in front of you. Encourage your baby to look at you and smile and laugh at them to give them reassurance.

Giraffe pose for You

  • First of all, do Giraffe pose yourself – your baby will love to see your movements and the pose will give you a great stretch. 

    Check that  you are sitting up straight, then reach up with both arms above your head. As you stretch up take a deep breath in. Breathe out as you lower your arms down to your sides.  

Giraffe pose for Your Baby

Now it’s your baby’s go!
  • As you do Giraffe pose with your baby, keep looking and smiling at them, to check they are comfortable, and keep telling them what you are doing. Even though your baby will not understand what you are saying, they will be reassured by your voice i.e. “Yes, you are reaching up with your arms!”
  • Start by putting your index fingers in your baby’s palms so they are encouraged to grip your fingers. This really does help your baby feel ‘in control’ of the movement. 
  • Then gently guide their arms upwards, so they are stretching up towards their head. Remember, if your baby is younger, under 5 mths, they will not be able to move their arms above their head completely as their shoulders and elbows will still have some natural tightness.
  • Repeat the whole pose i.e. stretch up yourself, in Giraffe pose, and then support your baby to do the pose. 
  • As soon as your baby gets the idea of the movement, encourage them to do more of the movement themselves, so they become more active and independent!   

Giraffe Pose for Older Babies


Stretch Up high!!

Description of Pose

This adaptation of Giraffe pose is suitable if your baby is able to confidently sit by themselves i.e. possibly over 7-8 mths of age. Ideally try to do Giraffe pose with your baby either in front of a mirror or with a partner. In this way your baby will either be able to look at their own arm movements or copy someone else’s!
  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and slightly apart. Settle your baby in front of you, with their back towards you so they can lean back against you if necessary. 
  • Make sure your baby is sitting well back in a good position. If they do tend to slide forward, gently bring their bottom back towards you and encourage your baby to lean slightly forward from the waist as they do the movement. 

Giraffe pose for You

  • Start by either you or your partner doing Giraffe pose (for guidance,  see the ‘Giraffe pose for younger babies’ section). This will give you a great stretch and will also give your baby a movement to watch and to copy. 

Giraffe pose for Your Baby

Now it’s your baby’s go! 
  • As you do Giraffe pose with your baby, keep checking to make sure they are comfortable, and keep telling them what you are doing. Even though your baby will not understand what you are saying they will be reassured by your voice i.e. “Yes, your arms are up in the air!”
  • Start by encouraging your baby to stretch their arms up above their head to make a long Giraffe neck! Gently put your index fingers in your baby’s palms, so that they feel in control, and then guide them to lift their arms up into the air above their head.  
  • Repeat the whole pose i.e. you or your partner stretches up in Giraffe pose and then you encourage your baby to do Giraffe pose.
  • As soon as your baby gets the idea – encourage them to do the movement with less support. You will probably find your baby is more inclined to reach up by themselves if you give them something to reach for – see next section on ‘Games Around Giraffe Pose’. 

 Games to Play Around Giraffe Pose

‘Reaching for Leaves in the Jungle!’

Gather either a selection of leaves or make your own leaves from green ‘leaf like’ fabrics.
Encourage your baby, in either lying or sitting or standing, to reach up to touch or ‘bat’ the leaves.

This reaching activity extends Giraffe pose for your baby and will:
  • Boost their confidence – your baby will enjoy making the leaf move by themselves. These batting games are the start of your baby feeling they can have an effect on the world around them.
  • Progress their reaching skills – your baby will be using their own muscles to do the movement rather than being guided by you.
  • Refine their eye-hand co-ordination skills.
  • Develop both their awareness of their hands and their small hand muscles. 

Make a ‘Sensory African Savannah’ Play Area for your Baby - Inside or Out!

  • Give your baby the chance to stimulate their senses and practise their movement skills whilst having fun with you!
  • Materials you might use include:
  • Light material for a leafy canopy. Fabric or charity shops are good places to find ‘offcuts’ of interesting materials. Sheer material, which is fairly transparent, is best. Your baby will love to look at the light at it passes through the material and, in addition, they will not be daunted by it! Outside, drape the material over a whirly-gig washing line or a garden chair. Inside drape the material over a sofa or chair.
  • Leaves – fabric or real. You can hang these under your canopy so your baby can reach up for them. If you’re using real leafy branches – these are excellent for a game of peek-a-boo.
  • Blue material of a different texture to sit on or reach down for – this is your ‘waterhole’

'Giraffe homes' inside or out

Drape your canopy over the washing line!

Why Giraffe Pose is Good for Your Baby

As your baby does Giraffe pose with you, they will have the opportunity to:

1. Stretch out their upper back, shoulder and arm muscles
As your baby does Giraffe pose they will be gently stretching out the muscles in their upper back, shoulders and arms. After your baby has been sitting in a buggy or car seat – Giraffe pose gives them the chance to stretch out stiff muscles. Remember muscles need movement to lengthen! 

2. Develop their eye-hand co-ordination.
Progress Giraffe pose for your baby by encouraging them to reach up for ‘leaf’ props. Your baby’s early reaching skills are closely linked to their developing vision. Hence reaching up for objects, not only improves your baby’s control of their arms it also refines their eye-hand co-ordination.

3. Develop their rib cage movements.
As your baby reaches above their head and back down again they will be moving their rib-cage up and out and then back and down, moving and exercising the bones and muscles of their rib cage. How our rib cage shape changes as we age is rarely considered, unless you are a physiotherapist! However, it’s development, and the muscles which support it, is vital for the control of our breathing pattern and the refinement of other physical skills later in life.

A Word on Rib- Cage Development

Our ribcage consists of: 
  • 12 ribs - down each side. 
  • The breast bone or sternum down the front of the chest. 
  • 12 thoracic spinal bones (12 vertebra). 
  • The diaphragm a dome shaped sheet of muscle and tendon which separates our ribcage, or thoracic cavity, from our stomach and bowel areas (abdominal cavity). 
  • Lines of ‘rib muscles’ in between the ribs – the intercostal muscles.
At birth your baby’s ribs and sternum are still mostly made up of cartilage, having not yet matured into bone. This means their ribs are much more flexible.
You may have noticed that your young baby’s ribcage tends to be a great deal ‘rounder’ than your own. Confirm this for yourself by feeling the shape of your own ribcage and then feeling your baby’s ribcage. Your own rib cage may be more like an elongated barrel shape – your baby’s will feel round like a ball. You will also notice that whilst your ribs slope downwards and inwards your baby’s ribs are more horizontal.
As a result of their round rib cage shape, young babies rely on their diaphragm muscle to breathe. This is because the round ribcage shape and more horizontal ribs makes it harder for their rib muscles to work. Indeed young babies have to work much harder at their breathing than adults. Some researchers have suggested that the shape and mechanics of a young baby’s rib cage make them more vulnerable to chest infections. Therefore it is important for your baby to be given plenty of opportunity to move on the floor, both on their tummies and their back, as this will encourage them to take deeper breaths and to exercise and strengthen their breathing muscles.
In addition, a young baby’s rib cage is more like a pyramid shape i.e. narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. An adult’s rib cage tends to be wider at the top and then become narrower lower down.
From birth to three years your baby’s rib cage shape alters dramatically. Changing from the ‘round, narrow at the top ‘flared’ at the bottom’, shape to the more adult ‘elongated, barrel’ shape.  This is partly due to:
1. Growth, as your baby grows their ribs will naturally lengthen and become stiffer.

2. Developing movement, as your baby learns to play with their feet, roll, crawl, twist and walk. These skills will firstly strengthen your baby’s tummy muscles, which help to ‘anchor’ the lower ribs and prevent the flaring shape, and secondly stretch out their spinal muscles leading to a lengthened rib cage.

3. Posture, as your baby learns to sit and stand up against gravity.
The weight of the rib cage and lungs pulls the rib cage into a more elongated shape.

As a direct consequence of this change of rib cage shape, your baby’s breathing becomes far more efficient. They can now start to use their ‘rib muscles’ (intercostals) as well as their diaphragm to breathe and can take deeper breaths in and out. So…

 ‘Early movement means better breathing and life-long chest health for your baby!’ 


For a fun, kid’s activities which not only encourage your child to move but also enhance their development - find your local class at

or find out how you could be trained to deliver Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at

Love Baby Bumpkin x

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