Vestibular System Development in Babies

    Vestibular System

    What is Vestibular System? And how to train it?

    In order to develop baby properly you may not be a great professional in this area but you should know without fail about:

    1. Vestibular System;
    2. Hearing, Vision, Muscle Tone, Balance, Proprioception;
    3. Two Main Parts of The Vestibular System;
    4. Motor Program for Babies;
    5. Signals of the Vestibular System Dysfunction.

    The vestibular system is the first sensory system that will completely develop by six months after conception. The vestibular system controls the movement and balance. This system is the sensory system that is thought to have the most important influence on the other sensory systems and on the ability to function in everyday life. Directly or indirectly the vestibular system influences almost everything we do. It is the unifying system in our brain that modifies and coordinates information that is received from other systems. The vestibular system tells each sensation where and when it should go or stop”.

    Effects of the Vestibular System

    Nausea, Irregular Heart Rates

    The vestibular system influences the autonomic nervous system. That is why some people may have problems breathing or nausea and irregular heart beating may be developed when the system is overwhelmed.

    Hearing, Vision, Muscle tone, Balance, Proprioception

    Other functions that the vestibular system directly governs are:

    1. Functions of hearing via the vestibule-cochlear nerve (the brain receives information by the vestibule-cochlear nerve through the inner ear associated with Tinnitus).

    2. Function of Seeing.

    3. Tone of muscles, balance and proprioception.

    When we talk about our brain’s vestibular system, we are normally referring to the vestibular organs – tiny cavities in the inner ear that help us to control our balance. However, the system is far more use to us than keeping us from falling over, also that in itself is quite useful. It takes similar control over our general senses: hearing, sight and touch. To do this it collects information from these organs – our eyes, our hands, our fingertips and all our muscles. It collects any information it can help control our body’s “natural” reaction to these stimulations, no matter how minute. Spin around quickly and you will probably fall over unless you are a dancer trained to cope with the problem. That is a large reaction but these are also tiny reactions, which affect your blood pressure, your heart rate, immune responses, limb position, muscle tone, arousal and balance. These tiny reaction are though very important and have capacity to disturb your mental equilibrium as well as the physical.

    Two Main Parts of the Vestibular System:

    1. Three semicircular canals filled with fluid and set at right-angles to each other.

    2. Two fluid filled vestibular sacs.

    Both organs are lined with hair cells. Movement of the body, especially the head, moves the fluid in the canals and sacs and stimulates the hair cells. When the hair cells move, these releases nerve signals that give the brain information about the angle, direction and strength of the movement; this allows the brain to adjust its muscle usage. Some of the hair cells have the special function of letting the brain know of any vibration from being upright. Along the vestibular nerve, signals from the vestibular system now travel to the cerebellum; this coordinates information from the inner ear with other parts of the body. It lets us know where we are in space and whether we are hopping, running, sitting, crawling etc.

    One of the main ways of stimulating the vestibular system is by swinging or rocking. Infants know this to be an important survival skill and that is why simple rocking at an early age will often calm them. However head upside down and legs off the ground will also greatly stimulate the vestibular system. Children adore swings, seesaws and – later in childhood – marry-go-rounds and roller-coasters.

    Motor Program for Babies

    Done by Glenn Doman and described in his “How smart is your baby”.


    – moving from side to side;
    – rocking with the baby in lap;
    – rocking side to side;
    – accelerate front to back;
    – accelerate side to side;
    – rotation prone, clockwise;
    – rotation prone, counter clockwise;
    – horizontal rotation, prone;
    – horizontal rotation, on the left side;
    – horizontal rotation, on the right side;
    – lift baby up and down;
    – roll baby back to belly, both directions;
    – trot around the house with the baby.

    Together with the reflex system, the vestibular system controls movement and posture. In fact, they are so inner-related that if the vestibular system doesn’t function properly, it can change the functioning of the vestibular system.

    Sally Goddard writes about “Signals of the Vestibular System Dysfunction”:

    – Poor balance.
    – Delay in the postural and motor milestones such as control of the head, sitting, crawling and walking.
    – Poor muscle tone.
    – Motion sickness beyond the age of puberty.
    – Dislikes of height, swings, carousels, escalators and lifts, or vise versa, no fear of heights.
    – Easily disorientated, poor direction sense.
    – Awkwardness.
    – Difficulty to remain motionless; may actively seek vestibular stimulation through excessively rocking or spinning.
    – Difficulties in space perception.
    – Poor organizational skills, “dizzy” or scatterbrained.
    – Cannot do certain activities, e.g. push/pull.
    – Fatigue/lethargy.
    – Incapacity to mentally rotate or reverse objects in space; can affect such things as the ability to read and analogue clock which is spatial ability, or to understand that multiplication and division are the same processes in reverse.


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