Thursday, August 8, 2013

Purposeful Parenting: the Importance of Tummy Time

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Back in the day, babies slept on their tummies. Since SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) rose in the 80s and early 90s and it was suspected that babies sleeping on their tummies played a part in their deaths, pediatricians recommend that babies now sleep on their backs. Thankfully, Bug seems totally fine with this and sleeps very well on her back.

Despite the fact babies should be on their backs while sleeping, it's incredibly important they spend time on their tummies. Tummy time helps babies' neck muscles grow and become strong. Since it's been recommended that babies sleep on their backs in 1994, pediatricians have noticed that babies are, overall, not reaching the milestone of holding up their head on their own when it's normally achieved. Tummy time is perfectly safe so long as you're watching your baby.

We try to do Tummy Time with Bug every day, but I'll tell you right now we didn't always succeed when she was four months of age or less. In the beginning, we were adamant about this every day - for the first month or so of her life. Once it was obvious she was a pro at holding her head up (she was bobbing it around on her own around week 2), we became a bit more slack about it, but she gets a lot of practice in with holding her head up when we're holding her to burp her. Now that Bug can roll, she gets plenty of Tummy Time because she always rolls on her tummy!

The best way we've found for Tummy Time is to put Bug on the floor with a blanket underneath her. As important as Tummy Time is, I have to warn you: your baby may hate it. Bug sure did. Oh boy, did she become incredibly frustrated. Why? Because she badly wanted to go somewhere. At week 2. She kicked her little legs and bobbed her head forward and was very frustrated when she wasn't actually moving forward. It broke my mama heart a million times over.

One way to keep your baby a bit less frustrated is to get on the floor with him or her, just in front and look at the baby and encourage him or her. Bug still didn't last very long before becoming so frustrated she was crying. If that's the case with your little, try Tummy Time a few times throughout the day so they get as much Tummy Time as they can - without being frustrated for several minutes straight.

Once your little is a little older, you can use a Boppy pillow for Tummy Time (as shown above). We're so in love with our Boppy - we bought a second one! (Both were purchased at garage sales for $10 each - a great price considering they retail for $40) Using the Boppy, you can place your baby, tummy side down on the pillow with their legs coming out of the opening.

One cool thing Jason did with Bug during Tummy Time, especially when she was frustrated at her lack of progress across the floor, was put his hands behind her feet. This way, when she kicked to go somewhere, she was able to propel off his hands and actually creep forward. She enjoyed this, but still ended up frustrated she wasn't going somewhere faster (at least, this is what I believe).

Tummy Time can be rough, especially if you have a little like Bug, but it's so important. I'm incredibly impressed with how well Bug can hold her head up at such a young age and am glad we took the time to work on this.

After Tummy Time is over, be sure you love on your baby a lot and reward him or her for a good Tummy Time session with hugs and kisses. I always tell Bug she did such a good job, she's growing so big and strong, etc.

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