May 29, 2024
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The Therapy Gym’s Tips for Tots

You may have heard the term midline before, but what does it mean? What is your midline? There are two sides of the body, and in order for both sides to work together they must cross this imaginary line called your midline. This line bisects your body from your nose to your sternum to your belly button. Without the ability to cross the midline, you would not be able to shake someone’s hand, read from left to right, write letters using your dominant hand, or even tie your own shoes.

Crossing the midline is the ability to move one’s hands, feet and eyes not only together, but across this imaginary line called the midline. Crossing the midline builds new pathways in the brain that are building blocks for the development of additional complex motor and cognitive skills such as reading, writing, self-care tasks, and physical activity.

Around 3 months of age, babies can cross the midline with their eyes as they visually track an object moved from one side to another. By 6 months they begin reaching across the body with one hand, and around 8 months they cross the midline with both hands by transferring objects from one hand to the other. By age 4, children can usually cross the midline with ease.

When a child has difficulties crossing the midline it can ultimately affect their ability to read. While the child is moving their eyes across the page, their eyes may stop in the middle and frequently lose their place. It also affects handwriting since a child must cross the midline in order to write from left to right, so the child may need to stop in the middle of the page to switch hands. Many activities of daily living will be affected if a child cannot cross the midline, such as brushing teeth, putting on and tying shoes, etc. If a baby is not crossing the midline, they may have difficulty rolling, transitioning from sit to quadruped, they may spin on their bottoms in sit to see other toys, and also play dynamically in sit and reach for toys.

Children who do not cross the midline often do not develop a hand dominance, which is usually determined by age 5. Children who do not cross the midline often show symptoms including poor fine motor control, poor bilateral coordination, poor upper/lower body coordination, and poor right/left discrimination.

Tips to encourage crossing the midline are:

1. Play flashlight tag: In a dark room, lie on your back and have the child follow your flashlight beam projected on the wall with his own flashlight. Make sure to hold the flashlight in the same hand and have that flashlight cross the midline.

2. Lazy figure 8s: Draw a figure eight on its side on paper, on the floor with a finger, or in the air with a finger. Have your child trace the figure 8 with his/her finger or they can also race cars along the track in the figure-8 pattern.

3. For babies, encourage crossing the midline by placing toys on the side of your child and encourage him/her to reach across the body to retrieve the toy.

If your child is having any of these difficulties and you notice they are not crossing the midline or it does not come with ease, please call our office and one of our highly skilled therapists can help.

By Elisheva Fuchs

 

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