As a mother and Occupational Therapist, I can relate to parents… I understand how having a baby is like a roller coaster. There is so much information out there!
When you have your baby, you want to make sure you’re doing everything right, but you’re not sure what is the best thing to do for your baby.
In the beginning, when you’re at the hospital, you’re learning so many things…
- Changing diapers
- Feeding baby by nursing, bottle, formula
- Throw ups and spit ups and what to do
- Coughs and hick ups…
And then, you get home… you have a bundle of joy and it’s time to be a parent!
Sometimes you wonder… When to call the doctor? Or should we call him for every little thing?? How about things that you “should” be doing with your baby while you’re at home…
With occupational therapy for children, there are things that you can do early on to make sure you set up your children for success…
Being a parent is an honor and a huge responsibility… most parents want the best for their child…
And maybe not all parents think about every single detail, but every parent has had at least one question, if not thousands of questions, when it comes to raising children.
Take for example, tummy time…
You’ll be surprised when only 25% of caregivers didn’t even know that prone play (tummy time) was recommended and what is even worse about those statistics is that one fourth of that group didn’t even know the potential complications that could happen from having limited tummy time. (Source: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/ February 2011, Vol. 65, 101-105. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2011.09100)
Even though tummy time is recommended in printed materials, hospitals and pediatricians, it does not get practiced by the recommended guidelines…
Are you practicing tummy time within the recommended guidelines? Take a look…
Ok so first, for those who don’t know… What is tummy time?
Prone play or tummy time is when you let your baby be on his or her tummy in order to move against gravity to develop all the other movements.
Babies generally don’t like doing tummy time because they don’t have the strength to push up from the ground, but it is very important because babies are not sleeping on their tummy, so as parents, we need to motivate our babies to practice tummy time in order to make sure they practice the motor skills that are needed.
How long does my baby need to be practicing tummy time?
It is recommended that a baby practices tummy time for at least 80 minutes per day. This would allow the baby to acquire many prone (facing up) and supine (facing down) motor milestones.
What baby’s development usually takes place during this time?
When infants are between 3 and 5 months old, they are able to roll from the supine position to prone. This means from facing up to facing down. (Source: Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2d ed. Folio and Fewell 2000)
When infants are between 6 and 8 months old, they use their arms to move forward.
When babies are between the 9 and 11 month mark, they’re able to use their hands and knees to move.
How can I make sure that my baby gets the recommended amount of time of tummy time per day?
A baby doesn’t have to be on the ground in order to make sure that he or she is practicing tummy time… You can practice it in many ways:
- On a caregiver’s recline
- On a caregiver’s lap
- By holding and carrying the baby in a prone position
- By burping a baby over the lap in a prone position
- Getting on eye level with the baby and motivating the baby
- Getting on eye level with the baby and making faces
- Getting on eye level with the baby and singing
(Source: Dudek-Shriber, Linda EdD, OTR/L; Zalazny, Susan MS, OTR/LPediatric Physical Therapy April 2007- Volume 19- Issue 1 p 48-55 Doi: 10.1097/01.pep.0000234963.72945.b1)
What recommended toys can I use?
You can use any toy that will allow your baby to be entertained to practice tummy time. Here are a few examples:
- Using toys in front of the baby
- Oball infant rattle
- On a boppy pillow
- With a tummy time roller rattle
- With a floor mirror
- With a water play mat
- With a music activity with the table legs removed
Are there any other “tools” I can use?
You can use a therapy ball which is placed in a more vertical position and practice some exercises:
- Slowly roll back and forth
- Start behind
- Get stronger in the front
Make sure you are looking both ways to avoid asymmetry. Also make sure that the baby is able to reach out the toy on the floor, not side by side. You can practice side to side later on, but now it is about getting the proper way to use the arms and maintain the weight shift that is happening in their bodies.
This sounds, complicated… how else can I make sure I do this with my baby?
Don’t worry, you can do this when you incorporate the following:
- Incorporate this practice as a daily routine
- While you change the diaper, practice tummy time for a few minutes
- When you play with your baby, practice tummy time
- Practice holding your baby in prone positions
When you practice this daily, you can easily get to 80 minutes of tummy time throughout the day. It is estimated that babies only get to practice tummy time for 30 minutes each day, so we must look for ways to help our babies as tummy time yields to so many developmental factors and strengthens so many parts of the body like the arm, shoulder and neck muscles.
So what can YOU do to make sure that your baby gets the appropriate tummy time per day? You have so many ways and options to make this happen. Start with just one and see how your baby gets stronger and stronger each day by practicing tummy time at last 80 minutes a day.