We get a lot of questions about how to help little ones get into and play in sidelying. Hopefully we can answer some of those questions here!
Sidelying is a great position for babies to play in because it helps them with bringing their hands to midline, it helps to develop oblique strength, they are able to work on balance and postural reactions in this position, and they begin to develop skills that are precursors to rolling.
An important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t expect to place your child on their side and have them just lie there indefinitely! They are going to have trouble staying in this position because gravity and muscle activity will pull them forward or backwards. You can use a towel roll along the back, or you can use your arm or your leg as well. And, you are going to want to have something engaging for them to look at. Your face is always a great one. They love faces! Books, toys, anything that gets them engaged. Don’t set a specific time. Read their tolerance. Some days they will want to do more and some days less. We tend to go in and out of the various positions as we spend time on the floor to mix it up.
How do you get into sidelying? Often I start with the child on their back and I help them roll from the hip. Depending on their age, you may be doing all of the rolling work, or they may help you some. This way, once you roll them onto their side, they have both arms forward and can engage with a toy or a texture or anything you put in front of them!
You may find that your child was tolerating sidelying really well and then they weren’t. This could be because they are now more aware of their body and beginning to feel the effects of gravity. So, they might feel unstable and like they are going to ‘fall’ forward or backwards. A lot of time you will see the top arm fling backwards (like the photo above) to come in contact with the ground. If this is happening, try giving them lots of support so they don’t feel like they are going to fall. Even if you are doing all the work. Once they feel secure you can start to relax your support so they are doing more on their own. And they will roll forward or backwards from this position. You can then play in the new position, or you can roll back onto the side!
What are your favorite ways to play in sidelying?