Today babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs in the hammocks, sleeping in the crib, walking in the stroller or while traveling in the car seat. This does not leave the possibility of exercising your muscles and can hinder your motor development if we do not combine it with frequent and appropriate postural changes.
We are all very clear that it is highly recommended that babies sleep on their backs (or sometimes, on their side) to avoid the dreaded syndrome of sudden infant death. However, when babies are awake and under supervision, it is very important that they gradually become accustomed to spending time on their tummy.
The ' Tummy time‘ This means precisely that the baby spends a while lying on his stomach resting on his forearms while awake, in order to promote motor development and prevent them from appearing deformities such as plagiocephaly, which we talked about a few weeks ago.
The benefits of Tummy Time are many and very important:
- It allows to exercise and strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands and be able to start controlling the head.
- Prevents deformities of the skull from appearing or accentuating.
- Promotes the development of motor skills: flipping, sitting and crawling.
- It is a good exercise to develop the sense of sight and oculomanual control.
- Create a bond with parents, siblings or family as it allows us a little time for interaction and play.
When can we start?
The benefits of Tummy Time are so many that it is the most recommended exercise by pediatricians and physiotherapists. We can start to include it in our daily routines since we arrived home from the hospital with the baby.
What are the best moments?
When they are awake, attentive and happy. After the nap, when they are relaxed but rested it is a good time (if they are not hungry).
Where do we put the baby?
On flat and firm surfaces, such as a carpet, activity blanket or changing table.
It may be that being on the floor do not like to feel unprotected, we can try an elevated surface, like the sofa if it is not very fluffy. This will make it easier for us to be at the same level if we sit on the floor. Of course, in this position we have to be more attentive than ever to possible falls and not stop looking at them for a moment.
Although this seems like a very easy activity and we all have in our head the image of the smiling baby with the head upright, the most normal thing is that after 9 months in a fetal position (with the C-shaped back) babies complain when we put them in the upside down position, since it demands dexterity and strength.
There are 5 very simple keys to make Tummy Time a success:
- Start slowly: It is important not to be in a hurry and to put babies upside down in periods of only 1 or 2 minutes by linking them with diaper changing routines, when dressing or while doing the massage after the bathtub. We have to think that this position requires training, it is better to go slowly and live it positively, and we will increase the time as they grow and gain strength.
- The most tolerated position: is sitting on the couch, we put the little belly with a belly. This is a position that the little ones usually like, it motivates them to raise their heads to look closely at us which is how they see us better since their eyesight is still developing. If here we also take advantage of doing "skin with skin" we will also stimulate the senses of smell and touch. Little by little we will lie down so that every time I have to put more force to lift our head.
- Another position that they accept well is be in our lap: with the leg he would touch on his lower belly and the leg he would touch on his highest chest. We will place our hand on the lower part of your back to give you security. These positions are the best tolerated also for the little ones when they have reflux.
- Carry it upside down: in our arms it is where they feel safer, so we can take the opportunity to walk them at home or play in this position to bring them closer to places that can get their attention (a vinyl of their room, the mirror, to the other members of the family…)
- Being at the same height: being at their level and that they can look closely will relax them. We can take advantage of these moments to involve older brothers in the game that they will surely be a great ally to focus their attention on. The first few times we can put a rolled towel or a small breastfeeding pillow on the chest to facilitate the beginning of the gesture, so they will not have to do so much strength and help them maintain their position and interact with the environment.
- Place toys at your fingertips: Turning Tummy Time into a time of games and fun is the most important thing to make it a success. We will place the toys in front of him and also distribute them to the sides to motivate him to turn his head to see them. Then they will begin to stretch their arms to try to catch them and thus begin to look for their first movements.
It is important that we try to turn both sides equally, so that the muscles will gain strength in a compensated manner.
A good toy It can be a plastic mirror in front of them. Babies love faces, so they will be distracted by being reflected. A striking music box or toys with contrasts will also love. Another thing they love is hearing our voice, so we can take the opportunity to sing or show them a story.
If with these recommendations your baby still does not like this position do not worry. It is recommended that you start with very short batches, each baby will have its degree of tolerance to this position, we have to adapt to its rhythm and not vice versa. There are also other ways to strengthen cervical muscles and avoid plagiocephaly. One of them, and the one that most likes, is the portage. The ideal would be to combine the two, but the important thing is that they have spaces of time where they can change positions, points of view and stimuli.
The slogan star of the American Academy of Pediatrics it is: "Back to Sleep - Tummy to Play" (Face up to sleep - Face down to play), which with numerous awareness campaigns invite us to combine these two positions.
Tummy Time is an essential game moment for the development of babies, which is why we should incorporate it into our routines, but we have to think that this position requires training and adaptation. The most important thing is to start slowly, giving you time to get used to it but at the same time looking for the way that our baby can increase the time of being in the upside down position and thus achieve a good motor development. The key will be to relate it to a time of play and fun.
Have you practiced it yet? How is your baby evolving? 😉