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Friday, October 20, 2017

Balloon Fun for Young Children By Trisha Roberts

What child doesn’t love a balloon?! Besides being a herald of great tidings such as a birthday or other celebration, balloons can be played with in a variety of ways that are also therapeutic.

Helium Balloons                          

Helium Balloons are great, especially the mylar type, as they stay inflated longer and have less risk of popping. When children are learning to stand and walk, a helium balloon can be a tool to build balance. I cut the ribbon on the helium balloon and knot the end so that the ribbon dangles at about the height of the child’s head. This motivates the child to reach up and pull on the ribbon to bring the balloon down.  Core strength, balance, eye-hand coordination, isolation of arms from trunk are all skills that can be improved with this activity.  It is also FUN, so the child is motivated to repeat it many times.

You can also hold a helium balloon at chest level in front of your child and have them reach out and “bop” the balloon out of your hand and watch it rise to the ceiling.

Latex or Plastic Balloons

Regular Latex balloons are great for teaching catching skills to a young child.  A regular playground ball is too hard and difficult to catch for most children just starting to work on ball skills (see our recent 3-part article about Development of Ball Skills in Young Children by clicking here), but a balloon is soft, floats down slowly, and is pliant, making catching easier.

I love to use half or a third of a pool noodle to practice eye-hand coordination and motor planning skills. (If you can’t find a pool noodle, a gift wrap tube or rolled newspaper can serve the same purpose).   Throw the balloon into the middle of the room and have your child try to hit it then chase it around as it skitters away.  You can also use the pool noodle as a bat and play a modified game of T-ball by hitting the balloon off of a stool, chair or other raised surface. Or you can try suspending the balloon from a pool noodle and holding it out for your young one to hit.

 Your child might like batting the balloon around an obstacle course composed of furniture and objects in the room. One or more children can work to keep the balloon in the air by continually hitting it as it starts to float down.


NEVER, EVER, EVER (Did I mention NEVER!) let a child suck on a balloon or put it in their mouth.  Latex and plastic-type balloons can pop and go down the throat, choking and even asphyxiating a child!

Be cautious of the long strings and ribbons on balloons—children and pets can get them wrapped around their necks or other body parts, potentially causing injury.

Many balloons are still made of latex—be careful not to use them around children and others who have latex allergies!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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