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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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

My baby won’t hold on to me

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailHey everyone,

I have been receiving multiple requests to address this problem. If you sense your baby is not “holding” you with his or her legs and arms, I strongly suggest that you have your baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist. This is generally a sign that your child is over using extension in his or her movement patterns. Other signs for this:

–arms stay pulled back and high, even in sitting

–unable to roll or “flips” to roll

–not grabbing feet after about 5 months old

–when on tummy, looks like he or she is “swimming” on tummy with arms and legs held up

This is a partial list. Please send me an email and we can talk further. Generally, this needs to be addressed by someone who can teach you how to hold and carry your baby. For now, try these things:

–carry your baby in a “ball” by curling feet toward hands

–place baby on his or her back and bring feet toward their hands to play peek a boo between his or her feet

–place your child in side lying to play (even if older). This will help bring arms together more.

These are just a few tips. More can be found under the gross motor activity pages for rolling, tummy time, and sitting games.

For more ideas on ways to play with your child, click HERE for available books.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail