Developmental activities are important to promote growth and expose the baby to skills required for functional mobility.

Transitional movements help with training the baby to move from one position to another position independently.

Safety precautions when exercising

  • Ensure that you have been taught the recommended exercises by a physiotherapist before carrying them out.

  • Position your child comfortably.

  • Observe for signs of pain or discomfort – if pain occurs, stop, and check in with your therapist before continuing further.

  • Do not do exercises immediately after feeding due to risk of regurgitation.

Your exercise regime

Repeat exercises every day or as instructed by your physiotherapist– check in with your physiotherapist on the recommended number of sets per day

Developmental exercises for your baby

Rolling with facilitation through the hips

Aim: To stimulate rolling over by propelling the legs, promoting one of the first ways of moving about

Instruction: Place the child lying on their back. Help the child roll over by bending one leg over the other. Gradually reduce the amount of assistance until only an initial stimulus is necessary. Foster the child’s participation by encouraging the child to reach for a favourite toy placed nearby.

Pull to sit from shoulders

Aim: To encourage the child to tuck their chin and gain control of stronger neck muscles

Instruction: Place your hands behind the child’s shoulders. Make sure the child is making eye contact with you, while their head is held in the middle. Slowly lift the child from shoulders to the sitting position.
Precaution: To prevent the child from losing control of the neck, ensure you put two fingers extending around the back of the child’s head for standby assistance.

Child on hands, supported on your legs

Aim: To develop head control, strengthen back and shoulder girdle muscles

Instruction: Sit on the floor with your legs straightened. Put toys on the floor by the side of your legs and lay the child face-down on your legs. Place your hands on child’s back to encourage the child to push up on straight arms and reach for the toys. You can also prop colourful pictures for the child to see.

Precaution: Ensure that the toys are not hard and sharp objects in the event if the child fatigues and loses control of pushing on their straight arms. If the child requires more support, you can place your hands under the child’s body and support the child’s stomach and hips, giving the child tactile cues to push upwards on their elbows.

Moving from lying to sitting position

Aim: To stimulate independence in moving from lying down to sitting positions and promoting weight bearing and control, using intermediary degrees of arm flexion and extension.

Instructions: Place the child in supine position. Encourage the child to raise their body and sit. Go through this sequence of movements with the child:

  1. Rotate the trunk, allow the child to support on their forearms

  2. Assist the child to extend their elbows

  3. Then use their hands to push into a sitting position.

Older children can try this transfer in bed following the same sequence of movements and bringing their legs to the edge of the mattress or bed.

Child sitting between your thighs, reaching out for toys

Aim: To develop head control, strengthen trunk and back muscles, and improve sitting ability.

Instruction: Sit on the floor with your legs straightened with the child supported between your legs. One leg can act as an anchor for the child’s legs while another acts as a cushion behind. Place toys in front of the child to encourage forward reaching.


Aim: To foster creeping in a prone position using the force and support of the legs.

Instructions: Position the child on their tummy and forearms. Bend one of their legs. Help him support and push his body forward by encouraging him to kick and straighten the bent leg. The child can also use his/her arms to help push their body forward. A family member can use a favourite toy positioned in front of the child, may help motivate him to creep forward. Creeping increases the ways in which the child can explore his surroundings, facilitates changes in the direction of movement, and stimulates the reaching for, and manipulation of objects.

Side sitting with an arm propped on your leg

Aim: To develop trunk and back muscles, strengthen shoulder muscles of the arm that supports the body, free one arm to play, allow the child to accept body weight to one side.

Instruction: Sit on the floor with your legs slightly wide opened and support your back against the couch. Side-sit the child on the floor in front of you, between your legs. Bend the knees of the child and turn both the legs to the opposite side of your leg. Place child’s hands on your lap to prop up the child. Support the child at the lower trunk and opposite shoulder to shift child’s body weight to the hip near your leg.
Repeat the same on the opposite side to encourage sitting on the opposite hip.

Play ideas: Use stacking toys, blocks or cars to play. Read a story book placed on the floor at the side.

Child on hands and knees over your leg

Aim: To strengthen trunk and back muscles, develop coordination, and allow the child to experience weight onto hands and knees.

Instruction: Sit on the floor with your legs slightly wide opened and support your back against the couch. Place the child on hands-and-knees position, support child’s knees with your other hand. Have the child put hands on the floor and push up on straight arms while your leg supports the child’s body.

Play ideas: Place a toy outside your leg to encourage the child to move over your leg onto hands and knees. You can also use stacking toys, cars, balls or blocks to play.


Aim: To develop muscles in the shoulder girdle, arms, hips, back and legs when the child pushes up and moves forward. Also develops balance.

Instructions: Place pillows or couch cushions on the floor and put the child on hands and knees next to the pillows. To get the child started, put the child’s hands on one of the pillows. Help the child move forward by holding and gently pushing the child’s hips forward. Allow the child to move arms and legs independently as much as possible. Support the body or hips only when necessary.


Aim: To develop trunk, pelvis, and back muscles

Instruction: Kneel the child in front of a coffee table, chair, or a couch. Bring the child’s arms forward and place the hands on the table. This will encourage the child to go into high kneeling and strengthen their hip and trunk muscles.

Play ideas: Put toys or snacks on the table, or have the child pick up toys on the floor and stack up on the higher surface by going into high kneeling.

Sit to stand

Aim: To foster the child to learn to shift body weight forward and up or backward and down. To develop muscles of the body, back and legs, and coordination of the body and legs.

Instructions: Seat the child on your lap, making sure the child’s hips and knees are at 90 degrees and the feet are flat on the floor. Support the child’s hips with your hands and encourage the child to reach toward the couch, table, or stool. Then move the child’s hips forward and up over the child’s feet as the child straightens the legs. Allow the child to be doing as much of the work as possible. When the child learns to stand up independently, you no longer need to support the hip. You can also help the child learn to sit back down by bringing the child’s hips back and down toward your lap.

Weight Shifting sideways to take a step

Aim: To allow the child to experience shifting body weight on their feet and develop balance control of the body and legs. 

Instructions: Stand the child on the floor facing a stable surface. Bring the child’s arms forward and place the hands on the table for support. Place your hands on the child’s hips. Slowly and gently move the child’s hips sideways until the child has body weight mostly on one leg. Then entice the child to step sideways with the free leg and allow the child to move hips to bring the body weight over that leg. Have the child then step sideways with the other leg to bring the legs together again.

Step up and down to balance

Aim: To further refine development of balance and coordination

Instructions: Encourage the child to try to step up and down from something that is 1 to 2 inches high, before trying on higher steps. Hold the child’s hand if support is needed but encourage the child do as much as possible independently.

Ref: K21