I am happily the grandmother of two brand new babies, now ages 1 week and 4 weeks. My daughters came home from their respective pediatricians with the expected admonition that they are to keep those babies on their backs for sleep, but not to forget to do “tummy time.” No explanations. No timetable. No details offered.
My daughters, like many new mommies, tentatively put their babies on their tummies, could not bear the inevitable crying, and quickly rescued their babies by picking them up or flipping them on their backs. Logically, they surmised that the baby was not “ready” or “old enough,” or that they were unduly causing distress. But when is a baby “ready?” How much apparent discomfort should a baby have to tolerate. When do the benefits out-weigh the crying?
My occupational therapist daughter, understanding the consequences of no tummy time (yet delaying initiating it nonetheless….), torticollis, plagiocephaly, delayed head control, rolling and other first year milestones, plowed ahead despite her baby’s crying, keeping him on his tummy several times a day. My daughter-the-attorney did not have a clue as to what “tummy time” was. How could she? Luckily she had two role models in her mother and sister to initiate tummy time as soon the baby’s umbilical cord fell off, as per her pediatrician’s request. At 9 days she moves her head from side to side, albeit slowly, both when awake or napping. She is on her tummy 5-6 times a day when vigilantly watched by her mommy, daddy or a plethora of other doting relatives.
There are many ways to get your baby used to tummy time. Practice during your baby’s awake time, several times a day, for 2-3 minutes at first, a soon as soon as your pediatrician will allow. Lengthen tummy time as soon as you can. Simply lay your baby down on your tummy (easy; nicely contoured), lay him/her on your lap or on a play mat (harder surface; more challenging). Distract him/her with eye contact, cooing and eye-catching toys with high contrast (such as black and white) or a mirror. You will be amazed at how quickly your baby will first turn his/her head slowly from side to side, raise it steady, and eventually prop on her forearms and then hands. Celebrate each mini-milestone and know that you are facilitating your baby’s development in a meaningful way.
See the attached article for tummy-time details.
Feel free to post your ideas for facilitating tummy time!
Tummy Time For Beginners