Thursday, February 2, 2012


Since the “back to sleep’ movement was introduced babies have been spending more time on their backs. Think about the day, sleeping on back, moving to car seat, on back, then to bouncer chair, back against chair, then in the carrier, again on back. This means that baby is spending much of the day and night on the back. One consequence of this has been an increase in positional plagiocephaly which is a fancy word for a flat or misshapen head. This condition does not affect brain function and can be corrected by using a specially designed helmet during the first year of life but prevention is the best option. Prevention involves being sure that baby experiences various different positions during the day. First, instead of using the bouncer chair or the carrier, you can use a wearable baby carrier to move around with your baby. Secondly, tummy time needs to be included in your routines. Tummy time is important for baby’s physical development as well. Tummy time helps baby strengthen back muscles and control head and neck muscles needed for later crawling, sitting and walking. Tummy time is just what it says, spending time on the tummy. This time should be while baby is awake (see above regarding “back to ‘sleep”) and alert. It should be at least 30 minutes a day but the more the better.

Here are activities to encourage tummy time.

Activity  1. In the very first month, you can start tummy time by placing the baby on the tummy over your lap or on your chest as you lie back (comfortably on the couch with your head on the pillows so your back is at about a 45 degree angle). This should be for a few seconds or minutes depending on the baby. Some babies can hold their head up right away, others do not.  That is all normal but do not give up if your baby does not seem to enjoy it. Repeat the activity throughout the day for a short time each time.  Increase the time as baby gets stronger. Even when baby is bigger, they enjoy lying on your chest as you lay back because they have the contact with you. Talk to and look at your baby and he/she will try to hold his/her head up to look at your face.

Activity 2. As baby grows, place him/her on a clean surface such as a play mat or a blanket. A small blanket roll can be placed at about the baby’s nipple level to help keep the head up. The arms need to be over the roll towards the head.  You need to stay down on the floor too. When baby gets tired can no longer hold the head up, it is time to pick him/her up.

Activity 3.  Place baby on a blanket or mat on the floor on the tummy and lie down on your tummy so you are face to face with baby. Talk or sing to baby. There is nothing baby wants to look at more than your face. This is a good activity to do with older children. Have the child lie across from baby on their own tummy. Ask the child to sing a song or tell a short story to baby or just call him/her by name.

Activity 4. Again on the mat or blanket, place a standing mirror in front of baby and lie beside him/her on the mat. Point to baby in the mirror.

Activity 5.  Place baby on tummy on mat clean blanket on floor.  Gently roll baby toward side and then back to tummy. This activity should be started when baby can hold his own head up for a few minutes. It helps to sing a little song with this activity.

No comments:

Post a Comment