I’d like to start this blog with a mini disclaimer—I’m not a physical therapist, occupational
therapist, or speech therapist. I am, however, a mental health therapist and I saw some real mental health benefits of bringing my infant to physical therapy. This blog is to tell you a little bit about the “why” behind the Helping Tiny Humans t-shirt, which is the first design I made in the Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapy collection! Read on for my top five reasons why I took my infant to a pediatric physical therapist to learn how to crawl and walk!
From my understanding, pediatric physical therapists (PTs) have the knowledge and experience to support our little humans to recover from illness or injury, how to prevent them, and how to support proper musculoskeletal development. I first learned about pediatric PTs on Instagram! I found Milestones & Motherhood’s Instagram page and was instantly addicted to scrolling and learning how to best support my little’s journey into being a full-on moving and shaking little guy. My son was born in March 2020, right “at the start of everything,” and life was challenging to put it lightly.
I did everything I thought I was “supposed to do,” following the suggestions I had found from Milestones & Motherhood (and some other pediatric PTs). My son spent minimal time in containers and we were cautious to never used any of the jumpers/walkers we had been warned would stunt his development. With all our effort and attempts at “setting up the right environment,” he still needed a little extra support with crawling and walking before turning 1.
This brings me to my five honest reasons why I loved taking my infant son to PT and why I would encourage other parents to strongly consider any recommendations or advocate for their child should they notice a need for early intervention.
Someone else, that I could trust, played with my kid and entertained him for an hour! I want to clarify that NO, physical therapy is NOT childcare and I was present for every session (always ready to jump-in if needed) but being able to take a deep breath, and not have to be in "full-on Mom Mode” was a GIFT! We didn’t have any childcare, and lived inside a very tight bubble thanks to COVID and not having any family or support network in our area. Taking my son to physical therapy helped to socialize him, and help him become comfortable with someone new, and taught him and I both valuable relationship building skills in a unique setting.
My son THRIVED. He absolutely LOVED going to physical therapy. All of his appointments were individualized to meet his little body’s needs, and though all of our sessions were different, there was a gradual reduction in how much input, or support, he needed from his physical therapist. He was being supported in learning how to crawl and walk properly, and I thoroughly believe that his physical therapist is who we have to thank for the fearless tumbling adventure-bug that my son is today. Today I watch my toddler navigate his little limbs through all sorts of obstacles, and have even enrolled him in toddler gymnastics because of how much he loves to move.
It was fun! My son got to play with a new set of toys he didn’t have access to at home, and the new-and-different toys got him up and motivated on tougher days. Play was used as the primary method of treatment, speaking my son’s language, and really allowing him to develop a genuine confidence about the way his body moves.
It was a short time-commitment. I understand this is not the case for everyone, but our total ‘treatment’ was only a few months because of how rapidly kids develop. We went once weekly for about 13 weeks, and when we started my son was silly-crawling, but by the end of it he was walking and climbing all over the place! There were minimal homework assignments for us at home, and the whole process honestly just felt like my son was learning naturally, in his rhythm, and his own pace.
I didn’t teach my son how to walk, but now he can run. I hold a lot of beliefs about how our bodies work and we live a pretty healthy lifestyle as a family. I believe that my son was able to build a more intimate and connected relationship with his body through going through physical therapy. I say this because I watch the way he catches himself when he falls, and his comfort he has in knowing what his muscle groups are capable of. I’m not saying that PT necessarily “boosted” him or sped him up with his motor development, but it caught him up to a place where now he is thriving and one of the most fearless tots I know when it comes to freedom of movement and physical expression. I see my little man move with more confidence, esteem, and some pretty impressive levels of agility.
So there’s my five reasons. They may not be what you were expecting, but I’m forever grateful for the woman who helped my tiny human make big moves!