Importance of Movement

How to Start Tummy Time with your Newborn Baby

Babies can (and should!) start tummy time from the day they are born.

In fact, tummy time is often one of the very first experiences that babies have when they are placed tummy down on their mother's chest immediately following delivery. Newborn babies love to be snuggled chest to chest with their parents. After being tucked up tight in utero, the chest to chest contact is comforting in a world where they now have to work against gravity and deal with the uncontrolled movement of their arms causing them to startle. There is added benefit of doing this tummy time on you with skin to skin contact, including improved breastfeeding, soothing, and bonding. Parents can continue to do this tummy time on their chest, with or without skin to skin contact, well after leaving the hospital. What could be more motivating for your baby to pick up his head on his tummy than the reward of seeing your face?

Back to sleep, tummy to play can be difficult in the early weeks of your baby's life when she is sleeping all the time!

It's hard to find a window of time when baby is awake to do tummy time in that first month. Your baby may fall asleep when doing tummy time on you or on the floor. Be sure to supervise your baby if she falls asleep while doing tummy time to make sure that she keeps her face clear and is able to breathe easily. If you are drowsy while holding your baby chest to chest, put her down on her back in a safe place to sleep such as a pack and play, crib, or bassinet.   

After living inside of you for nine months, your newborn baby likes to be close to you.

There are many alternative ways to do tummy time so your baby can remain in contact with you, other than chest to chest tummy time. You can hold and carry your baby in a tummy down position up over your shoulder or across your arms in front of your body. Baby can be burped in a tummy down position over your shoulder or across you lap, and the pressure on his tummy will help get those burps out. You can hold baby tummy down across your lap while eating or sitting and chatting with visitors. Remember that the tummy down position with full contact on their chest and tummy can be very comforting for your baby. Use this position to help soothe and comfort your baby. Try patting or rubbing his bottom while he is tummy down on you or on the floor. Gently rock or bounce your legs when he is tummy down across your lap. For more ideas and guidance on introducing tummy time to your baby, join Babies On The MOVE for one of our classes

FREE Educational Sessions @ Buy Buy Baby in Morrisville, NC

Babies On The MOVE will be offering FREE educational sessions in January, February, and March 2018 at the Buy Buy Baby store located at Park West shopping center in Morrisville, NC.  Come out to learn about topics related to infant motor development in a comfortable environment and have your questions answered by physical therapists who are experts in infant motor development.  Here is the schedule:

1/9/18: The Importance of Movement and Fostering Early Motor Development for Your Baby (6:30 PM)

2/6/18: Developmental Milestones in the First Year (6:30 PM)

3/6/18: The Importance of Movement and Fostering Early Motor Development for Your Baby (6:30 PM)

Should I use a Bumbo seat to help my baby learn to sit up?

As physical therapists working with infants, we spend lots of time talking to parents about ways to help their infants develop their strength, balance, coordination, and motor skills. One of the questions that we often hear is whether parents should use a Bumbo seat to help an infant learn to sit up. When we think about it, it is no wonder why parents ask this question so often. Step into your local baby store, read a parent’s page on facebook, or chat with friends with young babies and you are likely to hear some reference to the bumbo seat. There are few seats out there quite like the bumbo in it’s shape and design, and the marketing for it is widespread and effective. Images of infants in the bumbo show babies happily sitting up and sometimes even playing in these seats.

Unfortunately, when we look at the design of the Bumbo seat, there are some features of the seat that make this a less than perfect choice for helping your baby learn to sit. To illustrate this, it is important to understand that a baby learns to sit up by using the muscles on the back (extensors) and the front (flexors) of his body together. When a baby is learning to sit up, her bottom (pelvis) should be the farthest thing back, and her shoulders should be in front of her hips. This position places the pelvis in a slight anterior tilt, with the trunk flexed forward over the legs. You can picture this as your baby folded over and eating his toes if you are not helping to support his trunk. As he becomes stronger, your baby will begin to use his back and hip extensors to move into a more upright position and stay up in sitting.

prop sitting with ideal alignment

When a child is positioned in the bumbo seat, the rounded bottom and back of the chair places her pelvis in a posterior tilt with her bottom tucked under her, limiting the ability of the trunk and hip extensors to be active. Adding to this position, the front of the seat is elevated under the legs, making it tip them back even more. This positioning of the pelvis is a large part of the reason that infants look slumped over when sitting in the Bumbo. Without having the space or positioning to lean forward, you baby is not encouraged to turn on her extensor muscles and stay in a more upright position. When the body is in this rounded and slumped position, the head moves too far forward over her trunk, leading to additional problems with your baby’s posture.

slumped posture, posterior pelvic tilt
asymmetrical posture

Aside from the major concerns about a baby’s posture in the Bumbo seat, it is also important to think back to your baby’s primary motor goal during his first year: learning to move. Each month, we think about our baby achieving new motor milestones. All of these skills build on each other and within each one of them, your baby is doing thousands of repetitions of trial and error before she masters a new skill. If we simply place her in a seat that confines her movement and holds her in a position, it is much more difficult to fine tune how to handle her body in order to master the skill independently. If your child needs to be in a seat like the Bumbo in order to be upright, he likely does not have the strength, coordination, or balance that he requires to be able to sit independently. To help him progress with his motor skills, your baby would likely benefit a great deal more from play time that encourages him to strengthen his muscles and allows him to freely explore his environment. Tummy time, back play on the floor, rolling, and even supported sitting with you, in ideal alignment, can be extremely beneficial to helping your baby master sitting on his own.

Like adults, babies need to move and change position frequently. Once they can sit, infants rarely spend prolonged periods of time sitting still without actively reaching, shifting their weight from side to side, moving to their tummy or back to get a toy, or otherwise wiggling and shimmying around. As they do this, they are learning about their environment and developing the processing of the vestibular system. This system helps tell the brain where a person is in space and gives information about how the person is moving. Spending long periods of time contained in any device, including the Bumbo seat, can limit your baby’s opportunities to provide this important sensory information to the brain and help develop this sensory system.

As you look towards helping your baby master sitting up on his own, remember that a strong foundation for movement comes from developing strong muscles, balance, and coordination and exposure to a variety of positions. Spend time playing with your baby on her back and belly, help her play on her side and learn to roll, and offer her the experience of sitting and standing up in good alignment. With a strong foundation, you will be excited to see how your baby can learn to sit on his own and will be on the way to his next milestone.

 

 

What to Do When Your Baby Hates Tummy Time

 my baby hates tummy time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you put your baby on their tummy to play during supervised awake time to strengthen their muscles. Tummy time helps your baby strengthen the muscles in their neck, shoulders, back, and hips that they use to achieve developmental milestones on time including rolling, crawling, sitting, standing, and walking. It can also help in the prevention of flat head syndrome. Back to sleep, tummy to play: sounds easy enough, but not all babies love doing tummy time. What can you do if your baby is not a fan?

1. Start Tummy Time early

If you are coming to this post for advice, we may already be a bit late, but it is important to know. Babies can, and should, do tummy time from day one. In fact, most babies do get tummy time on day one, by laying skin to skin on mom's chest right after birth. That's a great position for tummy time in the early days when your baby wants to be close. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to do tummy time with their baby from the first day home from the hospital. Babies who start tummy time from the first days of life are more likely to tolerate and enjoy being in the position. That being said, it's never too late to start!

2. Provide Many opportunities for tummy time throughout the day

In the beginning, it's not important to give your baby one long tummy time session every day. Tummy time should be done many times throughout the day, even if it's only for a minute at a time. All those minutes add up. Take advantage of using the things you are already doing to incorporate tummy time throughout the day: Time to burp? lay your baby on their tummy over your lap to pat out that burp. Need to carry baby to the next room with you? Carry baby in a tummy down carrying position. Changing baby's diaper or getting her dressed? Roll her over afterwards to get some tummy time in.  

3. Make Tummy Time interesting

Get down on your baby's level to see what he can see from that perspective. Put an interesting book or toy at his eye level so he has something fun to look at. If you are down on your baby's level, your face will be motivation for him to pick up his head. Sing songs and talk to your baby to make it fun. Use a baby mirror so baby can lift his head to see the most fun person of all - himself!

4. Make Tummy Time Easier

If your baby is having a hard time picking her head up when she is on her tummy, you can help make it easier by putting a small rolled up towel or blanket under her chest. You can also use tummy down carrying positions to help her practice lifting her head up and strengthen her muscles to make it easier when she is down on the floor on her tummy.

Tummy time should be a fun way to play with your baby and help them strengthen their muscles for the next milestones to come. With a little practice, babies learn to love being on their tummy to play!  

 happy tummy time

      

When will my baby crawl?

We frequently get this question from parents.  Often young babies of 2-3 months may be seen bringing their legs up under their body and kicking them out behind when on their tummy, and their parents wonder if they will be crawling forward soon.  In order to crawl on their hands and knees, babies need to master certain skills on their tummy first.  

A baby will be able to bear weight on her hands with her elbows straight on her tummy and shift her weight to one side to reach with the opposite arm.  She will also be able to shift her weight at her pelvis and lower body, bringing one of her hips up off the floor with the leg on that side bending up by her body.  Once she masters that, she will be able to pivot in a circle on her tummy to get to toys.  It is also the position that she will use to get on to her hands and knees from her tummy.    You may see your baby pushing herself backwards on her tummy in an attempt to crawl forward toward a toy or pushing up into a plank position from her tummy.  These are both signs that your baby is preparing herself for crawling.  Many babies will start crawling forward with their tummy down before they crawl up on their hands and knees.  Once she is up on her hands and knees, your baby will play with rocking in this position.  At first, the rocking may not be very controlled, and she may may fall.  With practice, she will be able to control these weight shifts better, and they will progress from simple back and forth rocking to more advanced side to side and diagonal rocking.  She will be able to reach for toys from the hands and knees position.  She will be able to get into the hands and knees position from her tummy and from sitting.  Once she has mastered all of these things, she will be ready to take off crawling on her hands and knees!  

   

Stability Versus Mobility

During this month’s BOTM classes, we had a great opportunity to see kiddos moving along with their motor skills (pun intended). As babies grow, they develop strength in their muscles and begin to explore new developmental positions. When they are learning a new skill, babies are simply focused on staying up – or having the stability to be in that position. For the newborn, this may mean that they lay on their back with their legs curled up and arms tucked in to their body, or even flat on the surface which can support them. As they get older and stronger, your baby starts to reach his arms out and kick his legs, playing with new-found mobility. When he begins to sit, he may keep his legs wide apart, giving him a larger base of support which makes him more stable in a sitting position. He may also keep his arms out to the sides to help him balance. While this position with his arms and legs out makes him more stable, it limits his ability to play and move out of this position. As your baby gets stronger, more confident, and has more practice in this new position, he starts to bring his legs closer together, use his hands to reach for toys both near and far, and allows himself to move his body in different directions. This transition from stability to mobility is important, and we see it happen in each position that a baby masters. For some babies, this step between stability and mobility can be tricky. It may be that he doesn't feel comfortable with the idea of moving, or is just unsure of how to get there. Some babies keep their legs out wide even after they have been practicing sitting for a while. They may need extra encouragement or help keeping their legs closer together to make moving over them easier. Once your baby learns that she can move from her sitting position, she starts to explore getting from sitting onto her tummy or even her hands and knees. As she gets onto hands and knees or up on her feet for standing, the process of moving from stability to mobility starts again. With each new position that your baby explores, she will first work to master the ability to just be in that position.  Once she masters staying in the position, she is on to moving while in the position, and eventually on to the next position!

Why MOVE?

MOVE: Movement ~ Opportunity ~ Variety ~ Experience

During our baby’s first year of life we are constantly thinking about growth, development, and milestones. At Babies On The MOVE, we know that infant development can be a total unknown for new parents. Why is it really so important that our babies MOVE?

As parents, we want to encourage MOVEMENT in our babies. Helping your baby strengthen their muscles now will help them to learn to roll, sit, crawl, stand and walk in the coming months.

Babies have an innate drive to move. When we give them the OPPORTUNITY to spend time in different positions, we allow them to learn about their world from a new perspective.

For infants, VARIETY is the spice of life, just as it is for adults. Spending time on his back helps a baby to strengthen his muscles differently than he does when spending time on his tummy. Sitting up gives a new vantage point compared to being on your side, and standing opens a whole new world of possibilities for your infant.

Moving your infant through a variety of positions throughout the day not only keeps boredom at bay but it is also provides them with the EXPERIENCE they need to learn and master new skills.  

Every developmental position provides your infant with opportunities to strengthen their muscles, get different sensory information, and see their world in a new way.  Without all of these experiences, the path for motor development can be bumpy, with babies having difficulty mastering new skills. Our mommy and me motor development classes provide parents and babies with activities to encourage all infants to spend time in a variety of positions and strengthen their bodies for the future.  So the next time you are playing with your baby, don’t forget to MOVE!