5 Simple Ways to Help Your Baby Love Tummy Time

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Your baby needs time every day on his/her tummy to develop good muscle balance and strength. Although it is recommended that your child sleep on his/her back, it is important that you take time during the waking hours and place your child on his/her belly.

Did you know that you can actually reduce your baby’s risk for SIDS  by helping your baby strengthen neck muscles to be able to move his or her head? This helps your baby move away from items that can smother him or her.

Things to remember:

1.) Tummy time can be as little as 5 seconds!

If your child gets irritated after a few seconds, give him/her short break and then do it again. It’s okay to do small amounts at a time as he/she gets used to this position.

2.) Help your child keep his/her arms tucked underneath and palms facing down

3.) Don’t do tummy time right after eating—this can cause more spit-up and discomfort.

4.) If your baby has a G-button or a hernia, tummy time is still okay in most instances. Check with your pediatrician to make sure.

5.) Watch for signs of distress and change your child’s position.

Ways to accomplish Tummy Time:

1. Place a child proof mirror or brightly colored book/toy in front

2. Place your child on his/her tummy facing you on your chest while you sit in a reclined position. This will make it easier for him/her to lift his/her head and your baby will love looking at you!

3. Lie on the ground facing your baby and talk/play.

4. Lay your baby across your lap with a book or toy beside you to motivate him/her to lift his/her head.

Note:

–Avoid placing objects too high because this will cause your baby to lift his/her head too much and over extend.

–Also, if your baby has a slight head tilt (torticollis) make sure you put all objects straight in front for now. Talk to your physical therapist about this and make sure they teach you how to progress this, etc.

5. If your baby has some head control, sit your baby up and have him/her lean forward onto your hands or place his/her hands on a pillow. Allowing her to put weight through his/her arms is similar to the pushing up on his/her belly.

There are many more ways to accomplish improving the strength needed for your child to enjoy tummy time more. There are some medical issues that can cause problems with tolerance to tummy time as well. One of these is reflux.

ALWAYS STAY WITH YOUR CHILD when they are on their tummy.

Check out more ideas and games in my available books HERE

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7 Fast Ways to Get Your Baby To Crawl Now

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Is it okay form my child to skip crawling?

Your baby needs to crawl in all fours the traditional way for many reasons. That being said,  many babies do not do this and seemingly turn out fine. A few of these babies have some imbalances that may not be noticed while others may turn out okay. If at all possible, your baby needs to be in all fours. You can encourage this in several ways.

1.) Try placing her in a modified all fours position by having her kneel at a large pillow or couch cushion.

2.) Lay on the floor on your back and let your child pull up on you. Help her, if needed. She might just want to pull up to her knees and that is wonderful!

3.) Lay your baby on her back and bring her knees to her chest. Gently bicycle her legs and sing a simple song as you do this. Even patterning the movement like this will help kickstart the process!

4.) Put your baby on he rbelly and help her bring one leg up on one side to play. As she does this, she may be able to lift the arm on the same side to reach and that is great. You are helping her learn how to shift her weight. Now repeat on the other side. She may push off and go forward, which is a wonderful game–see the next item!

5.) On her belly, bring the leg up like you were doing in #4. Gently help her push forward by helping her at the foot and her bottom. Now do the other side. Be careful to help her keep from falling forward onto her face.

6.) Place your baby on her belly on a soft surface. Use a thin blanket under your baby’s arms and gently lift up to cradle her in the air slightly. Help her tuck her legs underneath to assume all fours position. Gently rock her side to side. If she loves this, help her move forward.

7.) Place your baby in all fours if she will let you.  Keep your hand under her chest and her legs tucked underneath. Help her rock side to side and back and forth.

There are many more ideas but these will get you started!

If your baby is army crawling, she is on her way! Encourage your baby to crawl over your leg with assistance. If your baby is a scooter, this will work as well to help her stay in all fours longer. Make sure to help her by supporting her chest and keep her from collapsing as she goes over your leg.  There are many other strategies that can be used. Email me if you want more information on this.

For available books on how to play with your child, click HERE

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Ford Creates Windows for Visually Impaired to See

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Have you seen this? Thank you to Ford for adapting these windows for the visually impaired.

In a world of obstacles, it’s nice to see companies beginning to create more accessibility. Target has a whole new sensory line of toys, weighted blankets are showing up everywhere, and now these windows that give the visually impaired a chance to “feel the view” through a new application of technology.

The smart window takes pictures of the passing landscape and converts these into monochromatic images and displays them on the glass. A passenger can touch the different areas on the glass and receive vibrations in a large number of intensities to help them “see” the landscape.

As a therapist who works with many visually impaired children, it’s nice to see a company like Ford taking a step toward reducing some of the obstacles in their life. As a mother of two children with vision problems, I’m always interested in technology that is addressing some of the difficulties of any type of visual difficulty. Some of the self-driving features that have begun to evolve may lend even more freedom to those experiencing some limitations by visual impairments.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Don’t let your time with your baby go to waste! There are many ways to play and create memories while helping your child reach his or her full potential with gross motor development.

Click HERE available books on how to play with your child to play with a purpose!

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Playing with your baby to improve development

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailYou have read all the baby books, talked to other mothers, and scoured the internet. How many times do you do this and then sit down, exhausted at the end of the day and realize that you didn’t have time to do any of it?

Let’s rethink it all.

First, you can use every time you interact with your baby, whether you are carrying her, feeding her, bathing her, etc, to help her achieve her best. It doesn’t matter if you have all day with your baby or snippets of time around the family schedule and work, you have the ability to give her things she needs through simple interactions.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I spend much of my day helping parents understand this simple principle: Every single thing you and your baby do together is a valuable learning experience. Thinking purely from a gross motor perspective, I can spout off something for every interaction to address a skill your baby needs. I can also give you suggestions for the other areas of development.

Let’s look at an example:

Head control: this is a very valuable skill that a baby needs in order to advance through to all the stages and finally walk. The following examples are ways to work on this during the day.

Morning: You pick up your baby in a diagonal pattern by rolling her up on her elbow and into sitting and finally pick her up. By doing this, you are helping her learn to pick her head up and reduce any head lag (head “lags” behind if you pull her to sit). As she starts to participate with this, you can bring her more in a straight pattern to sit (always supporting from behind her shoulders). I usually continue the diagonal pattern because it “patterns” the idea of getting into sitting.

Carrying her to changing table: Place her up on your shoulder to help her use her neck muscles more. If she is wobbly with this, give a little support with your other hand.

Changing table: Keep a little rattle up here and move it from side to side to have her follow with her eyes and hopefully her head. This works her neck muscles too. Go ahead and change that diaper too!

Carrying her to a chair to feed her: Again, hold her high on your shoulder and make her work a little harder.

Feeding: Make sure she is not arching too much and is able to relax. If she is arching a lot, tell the doctor and your therapist, if you have one. This may be a sign of some things that may need to be checked.

Carrying to her car seat: If you are getting ready to leave for daycare, carry her high on your shoulder again to allow that head to keep working.

OR

Carrying to have some floor time: If you are staying home for now, place her on the floor to play. Give her a few seconds or longer (if she tolerates) in some tummy time (remember this may be better with an empty stomach if she spits up a lot). If she spits up a lot, place her in sitting on your lap or between your legs in the “mommy chair” to allow her to work on sitting up. If you need to get some things done and need to keep her safe or more upright, place her in a bouncy seat with toys in front for her to watch and bat at with her hands.

Do you get the idea?

You have basically taken your baby out of bed, changed her diaper, and fed her. At this point, you have given her many ways to improve her head control with just these simple interactions.

A pediatric PT will be able to guide you through many other ideas on ways to simple carry and care for your child using positioning and simple changes to things you are already doing. With these ideas, you will be giving your baby much needed exercise throughout the day. A speech or occupational therapist can expand the above ideas to include singing and talking to your child or placing toys in her hands to improve her speech and cognitive skills as well as improve her sensory exploration and arm/hand strength.

No small movement is unimportant in development. A baby moves to improve movement in order to move. Every kick, reach, grasp, and babble means something important to her development.

Click HERE for available books for more ideas.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

When will my child walk?

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailWhew! I get this question literally every day in my practice. It is a HUGE concern from parents with a child with developmental delay as well as most parents in general.

Well, let me say that there is absolutely no way that anyone can predict this, however, there are stages and general developmental skills that usually have to be in place.

Not every child has to crawl in order to walk, but I highly recommend that you seek help from a therapist if your child tries to skip this phase or if they only crawl for a few days. Once your child begins to crawl, encourage this and notice that he/she will quickly be pulling to stand.

Once in standing, your child has to develop balance and strength as well as confidence to take a first step.

NEVER back up as your child walks to you. They will be less likely to trust you again if they feel scared during those first trials. 

Look through the Gross Motor pages on my site for ideas on how to accomplish the steps to attain walking. Here is the general order:

Side-lying

Tummy Time

Rolling

Sitting

Crawling

Standing

Walking

There are MANY things in between (like the transition skills), but the general idea is that your child needs to accomplish each skill in order when possible. Trust your therapist to guide you and teach you ways to play to encourage each skill. We generally work on several skills in tandem, so don’t be surprised if we are working on rolling while we address standing. When we see a weak area, we will go back down the skill list to a skill we need to use to build the muscles for upper skill development.

For ideas on ways to interact with your child, see available books HEREFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tummy Time, Back To Sleep, and Container Babies

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailAs a pediatric physical therapist that works almost exclusively in the 0 to 3-year-old population, I see a lot of delay that has no underlying reason. Of course, delay is always something to be concerned about and should be monitored to see if there is an underlying reason, but I’m speaking to the undetermined undiagnosed delay today. I believe that much of this delay can be attributed to the Back To Sleep program. Although I do not wish to see this program discontinued because it is saving lives from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), I do feel that there needs to be some clarification and some emphasis given to parents.

Most people understand the importance of tummy time. The problem is, children are almost always on their backs. We put them on their back in a bouncy seat, a swing, a car seat, etc. We have a catch phrase for this: “Container Babies” because they are always in some kind of container. Besides all the container time, now we put them to sleep on their back. That is a majority of their day and night!

After all this time on their backs, many children will cry when placed on their tummies because they may not be able to lift their head or push up enough to feel comfortable. This makes most parents or daycare workers not willing to continue this position because the child is upset.

There are a lot of different ways to accomplish tummy time without directly placing a child on their tummy on the floor. See the posts under the Gross Motor Activities for creative tummy time play. By the way, did you know that the current recommendation for accumulative tummy time is one hour a day? Not all at once–accumulated throughout the entire day, but even still, I doubt most people understand this suggestion and how ot accomplish it. Tummy time skills need to be adhered to for a child to be able to progress through all the developmental skills. It should only be “skipped” or changed under the direction of a therapist and only for specific reasons. Without this position, a child will have difficulty learning to move and transition in and out of different positions, but the biggest problem besides the delay in movement and other skills is the flattening that can occur to the back of the head or to one side (which can lead to terrible neck positions as well). If this flattening continues, the child can have other severe problems, such as facial deformities, that are irreversible. If this is caught soon enough, though, therapy and a helmet can be used to help direct the shape of the head until the skull fuses.

There are different types of flattening that can occur and all can be caused by other things as well, but if your child is not moving well or only likes to lie on his or her back and/or you notice a flattened area on their head or a place where hair is rubbing off, get help! Contact a pediatric physical therapist and let them help you get back on track or you could be facing months of therapy.

And…get your sweet little one out of those “containers” as much as you can!

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