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Vestibular Processing

Specialist Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy

Advice and Information for Parent/Carers

What is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system is your sense of movement and balance and gives us information about where our body is in space and time. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear and is stimulated by head movements and input from other our senses, especially the visual system. It tells us whether we are upright, upside down, or at a tilt, whether we are moving or standing still; and whether objects are moving or motionless in relation to our body. It enables us to right ourselves if we stumble. It also informs us where we are going and how fast and if we are in danger or a relaxing place.   Participating in activities that stimulate the vestibular system can:

  • Decrease non-productive jumping and running around.

  • Decrease self stimulating rocking and spinning.

  • Increase eye contact.

  • Increase focusing on tasks.  

Activity Suggestions

The following list is not exhaustive, and you may find other activities to add into your child’s daily life e.g. taking part in active sports. All tasks should be carried out under adult supervision.  

  • Crawling – on hands and knees ask your child to pretend to be a rocking horse. They should then be encouraged to commando crawl on a mat lying on their tummy.  

  • Rocking – on a rocking chair, a rocking horse, a wobble cushion or playground rocking equipment. Playing “Row your boat” would also be effective.   

  • Rolling - Roll on the floor, on sand or grass you can also use a log roll. 

Encourage your child to roll with their hands extended above their head, with their legs outstretched while remaining straight. Your child can close their eyes to see if this makes it easier. Include more challenging tasks, such as, encouraging the child to hold a bean bag in their hands or between their knees whilst rolling. They could play body skittles by rolling in a straight line to knock the skittles over.    

Swinging – use playground swings, monkey bars, soft play areas, flying fox, ropes and tyres. Being swung in a bath towel or picnic rug, hammock style, by two strong healthy adults!  

Garden or Playground Equipment - swings, chutes, trapeze rings, climbing frames, roundabouts, rocking boats and see-saw. 

Use the equipment in lots of different positions e.g. on tummy, on back, on hands and knees, standing, sitting or straddling when appropriate. 

Play games on the equipment e.g. throwing, catching, aiming, kicking etc.        

Do not use any activities that you think would be detrimental to your child.


The information sheets presented on this site were developed by Occupational Therapists primarily for use as a pre-referral resource. 

The website accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any activity ideas or treatment regimen detailed in the information sheets.