Great Chime Puncher

I swore that when I had a kid, there would be no flashing, beeping, or otherwise annoying toys in my house.

Now the great thing about these toys is they help develop motor skills. When you touch a button, you are rewarded with a buzz or honk or something, which gives a kid a sort of a calibration. They can practice the motion until it is refined, using the sound as a sort of beacon in the dark. I don’t need to mention what’s no so great about the buzzing beacon, do I?

But 3 months have passed and it’s time to give him a little more stimulation than what being carried all over town and the occasional hand puppet show provides. His muscles need to start developing motor programs, but I have this thing against plastic. Especially noisy plastic.

I also happen to have a kid that loves to punch. Seriously, I have been punched in the face more times than I’d like to recall. I needed to focus the little *fists of fury*.

Killing two birds with one stone, I hung up some chimes. Well actually my husband hung up some chimes (to an old phone line cord, to an old belt, to the ceiling). It’s not the prettiest of toys but it took about 5 minutes before the Kid realized that the general waving of his mighty fists would make a big clang on contact.

Cue smile.

Cue more chiming and clanging (note the blurry fists).

Fast forward a week and I now hear chimes in my sleep.

But the kid has some serious ability to connect. And what’s really cool is he doesn’t need to look at the chimes once he figures out where they are. He can look at other things and use his proprioception to make the movements that make a lot of noise. Isn’t that awesome??

A few days later, we needed “advanced chime” exercises. This consisted of getting his feet below the chimes. This one was great too. And if the career in boxing doesn’t work out, there’s always soccer, or kick-boxing (“sport of the future” — name that movie!) The leg-chime time is also his diaper-free time. In addition to the benefits of letting skin breathe, it is essential to have a break from things that push baby legs apart. As a culture we place babies in a lot of knees-apart situations (picture most baby apparatus, and diapers!) and babies can’t really develop deep core with a big ole’ diaper on.

The constant hip-open position (called abduction) is one of the reasons many of us suffer from foot, knee, and hip issues as adults. Kicking the chimes sans britches helps develop the deep core musculature along with the inner thighs. And, P.S. In addition to musculoskeletal benefits, the kick-chime exercise is great exercise therapy for babies with low tone or digestion issues too.

So chimes. Toy? or Personal Trainer?

In fact, why we really need is some adult-sized chimes. But, keep your pants on, will ya?

I’ll be keeping my eyes open for different chimes, as each set not only mixes it up sound-wise but will require a unique and novel motor program for the little guy. Plus, I just really like to garage sale. (As does anyone who uses Garage Sale as a verb…)

{note: Thank you, reader Kate Y. for sending me the Michael Olaf (www.michaelolaf.net) Montessori catalog! I just found out that they make a European Toy Hanger where you can suspend baby toys without having to tether them to electrical devices, like ceiling fans (which I don’t recommend). Smart. It does beg the question though, is the toy hanger European, or is it a hanger for only European Toys?}

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26 thoughts on “Great Chime Puncher

  1. Now you have me worried! I spent most of my sons first year carrying him in a sling and he had cloth nappies (in between EC’ing) Oh god have I damaged him? Having spent most of my life with back pain I don’t want him to have the same.

    I thought having them in the spread squat was good for the hips when they ae little. What do I need to look ouut for to check he is not potentially damaged?

    1. Listen, if you slung him around, did the EC thing I think you can pat yourself on the back for everything that you’ve done so far. And, in the long run, there’s not much that LOTS OF LOVE doesn’t trump.

      I’ll be posting on the hips-open thing. It’s not THAT big of a deal on it’s own, but what happens is they go from that, right into sitting in school and that’s really the problem. Look for a baby-wearing series that ends with The Spread. ๐Ÿ™‚ And if he’s still little, you can absolutely get him into some really good life-long alignment….don’t worry!

  2. And once again I lament …. “Where were you when I was birthing and mothering young ones?!!” GREAT stuff!

    1. But you’re going to be the smartest grandma EVER. And with the hippest boots ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Great idea! I wish I had thought of this when our little girl was a baby. I did suspend some toys with bells in them and she loved to make them swing, but wind chimes would have been a huge favorite (as they are now). ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Wow, those chimes are going to make a really cool sound when he pees on them! But seriously, alignment is just one more great reason to go diaper-free. Besides, little babies’ bottoms are so cute! EC was one of the best things we did when our daughter was a baby; we loved everything about it.

  5. Give the kid boxing gloves for advanced advanced chimes! Great stuff. So you’re saying that I should NOT have duct taped the diapers closed when my twins were babies? You have never walked into a room to find poop smeared all over the cribs and walls? Their cores had to suffer, I could only take so much nakedness:-)

  6. Okay, can someone please educate me…EC? Obviously, I’m not a mother or else I would know what this means.

  7. I love it! I teach Child Development and this is exactly what we encourage new parents to consider….everyday things that are interesting for infants. You do not have to purchase plastic red/blue/yellow/green junk to provide appropriate simulation for your infant. Not only is this baby developing coordination of of motor skills, his brain is developing!

  8. Ah yes, kickboxing, the sport of the future. I’m now humming “In Your Eyes” ๐Ÿ™‚ Brings back fond memories of watching the video with girlfriends in college with a bottle of strawberry Boone’s Farm.

    Interesting that the kick chime helps with low tone. My girlie had some challenges with that and being a bit behind with her gross motor as a result. Fortunately we caught it relatively early and had an amazing OT who helped her connect some neurons and she was off and crawling.

    Really enjoying your posts!

  9. EC stands for Elimination Communication. Diaper-free babies. There are lots of ways to do EC, part-time, sometimes, all the time…turns out babies can offer cues when they’re about to eliminate, and as caregiver, you might notice, and can hold babe in a place (over a potty, diaper, grass) to go, instead of watching baby go in a diaper.

    I thought my friends were nutty, but I tried it w #3 and enjoyed it and found it easy (easier to hold my 3-month-old over the potty to poo vs. changing that poopy diaper.)

  10. Babies in China seldom use diapers, EC happens all over the place in public into trash cans and gutters. Maybe this explains why the Chinese in China are so much better at core athletics. I always assumed it was because they trained from age 5 on, but it appears that core muscle training was from birth. Great piece Katy, sure would have helped child #2 when she was younger.

  11. I have always wondered about diapers and how they spread the legs apart. Both my boys were/are cloth diapered and we EC and always keep them in as little diaper as necessary for a given activity, but it just seems so bulky and awkward anyways, especially when they are first learning to walk. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about babies and diapers and slings and such and their hips from you.

  12. Hi Katy, I love the wind chimes idea. However I think the statement that it would benefit kids with low tone is a little too broad. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t depending on the severity of the tone issues and the presenting alignment in a variety of positions. Far more important for kids with low tone is tummy time. It’s the activation of muscles in this position that serves to connect the 4 inner core muscles (respiratory diaphgram, pelvic floor, transversus abdominis and multifidus) together with the other postural or outer core muscles.

    Also, far more than diaper/no diaper, it’s the actual skeletal developmental biomechanics of the hip that create the restriction at this age. Tummy time when they are babies, well-rounded physical activity as they grow and less sitting are what the brain and the skeleton need for a lifetime of good alignment and function.

    1. Thanks for your input! Of course tummy time is most important – chimes are just an addition – a way to continue development after tummy time (or therapy) is over. No reason to not have play be working on the issue as well!

      And, diaper removal is not about increasing joint range of motion for the exercise, but to have some non-interference time with those developing joint mechanics. You cannot develop full ranges of hip motion (or a natural gait pattern, for that matter) with a chronic, unnatural position of the hip!

      Thanks again, and moms read up about tummy time! Essential!

    2. I also wanted to add that a life time of good alignment and function require much more than well-rounded physical activity and less sitting. The prescription is much more specific than that! Our current state of alignment is hugely induced by the use of toilets (regular full squats actually form and shape the pelvis’ ossification sites for better SI function later than life. Children (and their parents) need to walk hundreds of miles a year to optimize bone density and develop the habit of reciprocal arm swing. Children learn their gait patterns by mimicking their parents, so if mom or dad is outta alignment, it gets passed down! Time in ballet? That turned out foot position needs to stop after class, but does it?

      The notion that alignment will happen naturally in our unnatural situation is incorrect. The bigger issue is, we take our disease for granted (it’s age or genetics) when it is the accumulation of bad habits that everyone else is doing. It’s hard to point the finger at an entire population of a billion people and still call it unnatural, I know, but normal does not equal natural!

  13. This is such an awesome post, Katy! I, too, like some of the moms above, wish I had this info when my 6 were little! And, YES, I will be a GRAND grandmother!!

    The diaper spreading the hips/legs always bothered me…though I could never quite pinpoint why…so thank you for yet another confirmation of my mothering instincts….like when I took my youngest out of ballet precisely BECAUSE I kept thinking that “plie” or however you spell it, didn’t jive with good structure…and I am always preaching to my clients about structure determining function and function determining structure.

    My colleague I work with in my office worked with the Institute for the Achievement of Human Development and has brought to the fore the importance of the “patterning” and the effects on optimal brain development, so when you mention a good gait and the reciprocal arm swing, I’m right there with you!!

    My, my but you are an awesome lady & mother!!

  14. Katy, I have been really working on moving from slightly duck footed to feet-facing-forward, and I’ve noticed that my toddler (he’ll be 2 next month) walks with his feet angled out slightly (so does his daddy). I know it’s normal when they first start to walk , but he’s been walking (running, climbing, etc) for over a year now. Is it still normal at his age, and if not can you recommend anything simple to do with him to help? Is it just about modelling? Perhaps I’m overthinking it….

    1. Boys will model Dad more than mom. You might want to give dad a foot position lesson. Have to do that at my house too. Let him read the Foot Pain book too on learned gait…

  15. I know this is a very old entry, but I couldn’t let the quote from one of my very favorite movies go unnoticed!!!

    I answer with this, my life philosophy: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that. “

  16. Interesting point on babies hips. When researching a baby carrier, the general advise was that it was best for babies to have their knees out to the side and be supported under the thighs, as opposed to only being supported under the bum and legs hanging straight down. My little man, also three months, will only sleep during the day in a carrier (I have a wrap sling)… so his hips are kept open most of the time. Now I’m concerned after reading you blog! I guess we will have to have more nappy free time when he is out of the sling! And I’ve just added chimes to my shipping list when I head into town next. Will this be enough for core development while I kept using the sling?

    Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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