Experts recommend tummy time for all babies to help develop their motor skills and protect against flat head syndrome. However, as most parents who have tried it will readily attest, getting your little one to feel comfortable lying face-down can be easier said than done. If you want to know how to make tummy time and repositioning easier, read on to discover some tried and tested methods that other parents find useful.
Why does your baby hate tummy time?
While sleeping on the back every night may be essential to protect against SIDS, many babies become accustomed to this position and begin to favour it when awake, too. This tendency is further encouraged by the use of car seats, pushchairs, bouncy seats and so on, which save babies from having to use the muscles in the chest, arms and neck in order to support themselves.
This lack of reliance on the spinal extensors and upper body muscles can lead to developmental delay and tightness in the neck (positional torticollis), making tummy time even more difficult and uncomfortable. There’s also the fact that it is far easier for babies to turn their head and look around the room from the supine position than it is when lying on the front.
It’s therefore understandable if your little one is kicking up a fuss: tummy time and repositioning are hard work, they make it difficult to see what’s going on and they may even hurt (at least to begin with). However, they are vital for healthy development and things should become a lot easier once the muscles start to develop at a more normal rate.
Even babies need to work sometimes and you never know, once your little one gets used to this new view of the world they might even start to enjoy it!
Top 10 tummy time tips for parents
In addition to the repositioning techniques suggested on our website, there are several other tips and tricks you can employ to make tummy time that little bit easier:
1. Employ distraction techniques. Lie down next to your baby and talk, hold up toys, prop up a book, make faces – anything you can to distract your baby from the fact that they’re lying face-down on the floor. Why not get big brother or sister involved?
2. Turn it into a cuddle. Lay your baby tummy-down on your tummy or across your knees when crossed for an added feeling of closeness and reassurance.
3. Try massage. If your baby likes being massaged whilst lying face down, this might help them to feel more relaxed in that position.
4. Use a soft surface. Place your baby near the edge of a bed or sofa and sit facing them on the floor. This will also make it easier to interact.
5. Try a tummy-time toy. Make tummy time special by investing in a mini activity area with hanging toys, mirrors, moving pictures and so on, and only allowing your baby to use it during tummy time. Remove their socks to make it easier to grip the mat.
6. Use a prop. Place a rolled-up towel under the chest for added support until your baby has developed adequate upper body strength to get up on their forearms.
7. Begin an hour after feeding. That way, your baby will be neither hungry and irritable nor too full to lie comfortably belly-down.
8. Integrate it into the everyday routine. For example, roll your baby over after each nappy change to make tummy time feel more like a part of daily life.
9. Be perceptive. Does tummy time cause your baby’s blanket to get all scrunched up, causing possible discomfort? Is the floor too cold? Too slippery? Establish potential links between your baby’s irritability and their environment and make adjustments accordingly.
10. Don’t force it. If your baby starts to cry, spend a little time trying to coax them but if this doesn’t work out, pick them up and try again later. The last thing you want is for them to develop lasting negative associations with tummy time.
The more persistent you are, the more comfortable your baby will feel lying face-down and the less frequently he’ll kick up a fuss as the back and shoulder muscles become stronger. By the time theyis able to roll around independently, they should be able to switch between the two positions with relative ease and little complaint. This usually happens at 5 to 6 months of age.
Still having difficulty with tummy time and repositioning? Technology in Motion can help. We have extensive experience in the treatment of flat head syndrome through both conventional techniques such as tummy time and cranial helmet therapy, and can help you figure out exactly what it is that’s causing all the fuss.
Call 0330 100 1800 to arrange an appointment at your nearest clinic, or browse our website for more information on flat head syndrome, repositioning and tummy time.