BALANCE: FROM BABY TO GYMNAST. Baby’s balance development.




Continuing development: 


During Level 4 continue with the Level 3 Balance Development activities as they will assist baby to walk and run well. The Balance Development activities should also provide baby with balance abilities that significantly enhance her future abilities as a gymnast, dancer, surfer, snow-skier, skate-boarder and as a participant in other sports and activities requiring high level balance skills. 


Assisted forward rolls: 


Assisted forward rolls are a daily activity to introduce baby to forward rolls, if you feel confident to do so. The assisted forward roll activity can be used as an alternative to one of the 8 activities that continue into this Level 4 from Level 3. 


Forward rolls are fun, safe and simple to do if they are done correctly. The key to doing them safely is to ensure they are done carefully and that baby’s neck is not put under any unnecessary strain. Assisted forward rolls are a means of balance development and also serve to introduce baby to how it feels to do forward rolls. 


When baby is as young as six to nine months she can be introduced to forward rolls. Remembering that babies spend about 3 to 7 weeks upside down in their mother’s uterus before birth it is plain that being head down is not an unusual position for baby. It is beneficial for baby’s balance development now for her to experience how it feels to be rotated 360 degrees and to feel safe doing that. As in all activities baby must be handled with tender loving care and enjoy the experience. It can be useful to consult a gym teacher who is experienced working with babies and young children and who can demonstrate how you can stand baby vertically and then carefully rotate her through 360 degrees. 


To assist baby to do a forward roll a parent can kneel on a soft mat, bed or thick carpet with baby standing between her legs and facing away from the parent.  Baby’s head is then placed tucked down with her chin close to her chest. Baby’s head can then be held with one of her parent’s hands placed on the top-rear of the head. The parent’s other hand is then placed on baby’s lower abdomen between the hips. Baby is then gently rolled over by lifting her up and back with the hand on the hips while the hand on her head pushes her head gently forward, down and remains supporting her head as her legs go up, over her head and back to the soft floor covering again. Care must be taken of course, that her neck is not put under any strain and her head is tucked under with the chin near the chest.  It is quite easy to do these ‘assisted forward rolls’ with baby in such a way that her back, shoulders, neck and head do not touch the mat or bed at all until the roll is completed. Be sure that she lands on a soft surface such as a gym mat, bed or thick carpet so she does not hit the floor hard. 


Keeping the head tucked under is always important for children (and adults) of any age when doing forward rolls. The forward roll is done by placing most of the body’s weight on the shoulders and back; and almost no weight is placed on the neck and head. The head should always be tucked under and no strain be placed on the neck.  A neck support is not used as toddler’s chin is placed to her chest.


  • Do 5 assisted forward rolls each day. Do one assisted forward roll at a time and spread them evenly throughout the day.