You have your beautiful bundle of joy in your arms and she’s only a few weeks old. You move to put her down on the floor on her tummy for tummy time because you’ve heard how important it is and within minutes or even seconds, she’s wailing and screaming for you to pick her up. Sound familiar? You’re not alone! Many parents struggle with getting their babies to be on their tummies. So, is it really worth it? Is it actually important, or just one more thing, for parents to feel they are failing at in their parenting journey.
First off, we’ve got you. We aren’t here to judge any parenting choices you’re making. Just do your best, mama, with the information you have and remember to smile. At the end of the day, s/he will be ok. Life-on-the-daily with your little bebe has MORE success, more joy, more RIGHT than each day has anything else. Within you, you have the instinct, wisdom and tools to love on your little one. SMILE onward!
Let’s talk about child development…
Did you know babies’ brains develop largely through body position and movement? (😰). Yes!
There is a developmental sequence of movements babies move through in their first 18 months of life. Babies lay on their tummies and look up, they lay on their backs and bring their hands to the middle of their bodies, the roll both directions; they lay on their bellies and start pushing themselves backwards, the pivot and eventually army crawl and move to hands and knees crawl. Babies finish this journey with pushing to sit, and then walking.
Now, it’s possible no one has shared some very important information with you.
The order of the sequence of developmental movements is more important than the age they hit them at!
Yep, that’s right! Crawling before walking is more important than an exact age span for their crawling and walking. (to learn more go here: Baby Bare website)
As pediatric chiropractors, we see a lot of babies and many of which do not enjoy tummy time. If we see a baby that doesn’t tolerate tummy time, we know we have some work we will most likely need to do with this little one. Biologically, babies should be very comfy on their tummies. They should love to curl up and go to sleep. It should be the most comfortable position for them, especially in those first few months.
So…why isn’t it?
The answer often starts with their birth story. Labor and delivery provide a lot of stress to both baby and mom. Due to this stress (whether it was a labor that was induced, c-section, epidural, you name it every birth is stressful) baby may have tension in his/her muscles/fascia, joints and misalignments in their spine (most commonly upper neck). In our office, when we pick up and hold a baby for the first time that isn’t enjoying tummy time, that baby almost always feels stiff. Babies when picked up should be “squishy”. They should curl right over your hand. If you pick them up and they are stiff as a board, we have a problem (with an opportunity!!). That stiff baby will not enjoy being on his tummy because it’s very uncomfortable. (Try it mom: lay on the floor on your tummy, now stiffen up and tighten your glutes, legs and back muscles and stay that way…not very comfortable, huh?…that’s what your little one could be feeling) To get baby to enjoy being on his tummy, we have to get him more comfortable in his body! He needs to be soft and squishy!
So, my baby is stiff, what do I do?
At Family First (White Bear Lake, MN) in our office we assess any misalignments in the spine that could be causing any discomfort or stiffness. If we find them, we very gently adjust and release these stuck points to help create more ease in your little one. You can literally see a baby melt in front of your eyes when this happens. Then, if needed, we gently stretch out the fascia and muscles to help the adjustment along and help baby find ease.
What if my baby is 6 months old? Could anything else make my baby stiff and tight?
Unfortunately yes, time in “containers” (aka car seats, bouncy seats, swings, etc) will make your baby tight and could delay developmental advancements. In those first 3 months of life, a baby’s brain is growing at an astonishing rate!
As best as you can plan and aim for, in your family life:
- Limit the baby in a car seat or container to less than 30 minutes per day. When the baby isn’t in the car or being held: baby is on the floor, crib, bassinet or pack and play on a flat surface.
Now, I know you could be thinking how could this be possible, I have to leave the house and drive my kids here and there, go to Target, get groceries, etc… Take it easy on yourself mama, do your best. Could someone else do an errand for you? Can you only do 1 per day? Order your groceries for delivery? Get a baby carrier for your body and take baby out of the car seat and wear him? (I know, not convenient but a possible solution and so very worth it! Plus you get the extra snuggles 🙂)
- Going for a walk, can the baby lay flat in the stroller, instead of inclined?
- Older siblings are running around and you just need to put baby down to cook dinner or take a shower, insert pack n play. Baby can be flat and protected!
Tummy time is super important for your baby’s development, supporting proper growth in their neck and back muscles, core muscles, and decreasing the risk of flat head or plagiocephaly.
If you’re thinking, “Ok, but my baby hates tummy time!” Here are some tips to help incorporate the process into your little one’s life.
👉 Tummy time is reserved for when baby is awake (unless asleep on your chest)
👉 Start slow! Even 20-60 seconds is great to get going
👉 Try it a few times per day
👉 Make it a “no-cry” experience- if baby has had enough for now, stop and try again later
👉 Get creative – try putting baby on your shins or thighs
👉 Bring your little to a pediatric chiropractor (like US!) to get checked! Depending on the subluxation present; it can be a big reason why your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time!⠀
If we get creative, we can often find solutions! In fact, we’re GOING to get creative and talk more about “containers” and the REAL of family life in another upcoming blog post! So check back here in the upcoming days!
REMINDER: Our goal is to help you and empower you!