As babies develop they will often engage in hand and foot play, even bringing their feet to their mouth. This may seem odd to parents but it actually serves a purpose and has several benefits for your child. Some of these benefits/purposes are:
- Bringing their feet up to their hands and even their mouth allows the child to start stretching out their hamstrings. After approximately nine months in the womb they have really tight hamstrings from being in the ‘fetal’ position.
- By lifting their feet up in the air and attempting to get them with their hands they are working on their core strength as well as developing anti gravity strength in their flexor muscles in both their abs and their head and neck.
- Grasping their feet allows them to develop their grasping skills which can carryover into fine motor tasks.
- Reaching for their feet encourages reaching with both hands as well as one hand. It also can work on reaching to the same side of the body as well as to the opposite side of the body.
- Assymetric reaching can also lead to the development of skills such as rolling.
- The practice of attempting to grab their feet in either one or both hands, and either one or both feet allows them to develop motor learning and motor exploration so they can figure out what their bodies and muscles do.
- Also, hand and foot play, as well as putting their feet in their mouth shows they are developing body awareness as well as gives them opportunities to continue to develop this.
You can encourage hand and foot play as well as foot to mouth by gently bringing their feet up to where they can reach them. Never force this motion because some kids may be tighter than others. By exposing them to their feet, they will begin to be interested and attempt to reach for their feet to explore and play.