The Tummy Time Olympics

Do not even think about putting me
on my stomach, mom.
If you have not heard of it, "Tummy Time" is a term used by pediatricians to describe time you should spend putting your baby on their stomach each day. I forget what age they're supposed to start this (maybe a month or 6 weeks?), but once they get the all-clear from the doctor, they're supposed to start this exercise for a few minutes each day and work up to lots and lots of minutes each day.

Most babies hate Tummy Time. Noah does. Our pediatrician recommended getting him lots of tummy time at our last appointment, not only to develop his neck muscles but also because he had a slightly flat head. I cannot tell you how often I lay awake at night worrying about this. I also cannot tell you how many people say "Tummy Time? We didn't need no stinkin' Tummy Time back in the good old days!" (Yes. Agreed. Because babies did not always have to sleep on their backs back then. Now good day to you, sir.)

 I feel about Tummy Time the way I feel about flossing my teeth: massive guilt that I cannot motivate myself to do it.

Since Noah gets Very Angry when we try to put him on his stomach, I am loathe to ruin any good moods he has by trying it. And if he's not in a good mood, well, it's not a great time for it either. But now we have his 4 month check-up looming in 17 days and I am terrified that our pediatrician is going to say "Here's your kids' helmet. Flat head and disastrously weak neck muscles. Way to go, stay-at-home mom."

So I am trying something new. I am calling it the Tummy Time Olympics (sounds fun, right??) and I am posting about it here in case you are scared of Tummy Time too. Maybe it will help you sleep a little better.

The gist: Rotate through an assortment of exercises that encourage the muscles that Tummy Time works… and time your kid to see how long they can stay in the positions. Rotate through the list each day and write down their best scores. Get excited when they have personal bests! (Disclaimer: it should be obvious that I'm not a doctor and you should only do this if you think it's the right thing for your kiddo. These are compiled from pediatrician suggestions, the baby class we attend and the Internet.)

The 13 poses: 

Baby is laying on the floor. Gently hold his hands and pull him until he's sitting up, then lay him down again. Do as many as you can.

Upright shoulder walk
You walk around with baby's neck higher than your shoulder. Talk about all the interesting things the kid is seeing. Hold as long as you can.

You lay down on the floor with knees tucked and lay the baby on your legs; make funny faces at the baby. Hope he does not puke in your face. Hold as long as you can.

Stare out the window
You sit in a chair or on the couch in front of a window. Put baby against your shoulder so he can contemplate the world. Hold as long as you can.

Get on the same level
Baby goes on his stomach and you get down there to sing songs, make noises, make faces. Could be on the floor or your bed. Hold as long as you can.

Changing pad massage
After bath, rub some lotion or baby oil on baby's back while he is on his stomach. Hold as long as you can.

The Cliff
Put baby so he is (carefully) peering over the edge of the bed or couch. Sit so you are eye-level with him. Hold as long as you can.

Naked time
Waterproof mat on floor. Baby is naked and on stomach. Hold as long as you can.

Roll to the left and stay
Roll baby to his left side and let the weight of his top leg fall over his bottom leg (so he's essentially rolling to his stomach himself). Hold as long as you can.

Roll to the right and stay
Roll baby to his right side and let the weight of his top leg fall over his bottom leg (so he's essentially rolling to his stomach himself). Hold as long as you can.

On your chest
Lay the baby on your chest - or start on your side with baby facing you on his side, then roll him onto your chest. He has to hold neck up to look at you. (Beware engorged boobs if this is an issue for you!) Hold as long as you can.

Sitting forward
Sit baby on your lap, leaning forward. Put one hand on his chest and the other on his back. Talk to him about what he's seeing. Hold as long as you can.

Bumbo seat
Put baby in Bumbo seat. (If his thighs are too fat for the leg holes, be careful getting him in and out. Noah The Chunk has this problem.) Hold as long as you can.

If you make it through all thirteen poses for a minute each, that will get you a great start. I will check back in on this in two weeks after we have our pediatrician appointment… good luck, little Olympians!


Daffodil Campbell said...

I have never had a baby like tummy time in the beginning - and some of them use it as a motivation to learn to roll over, so they don't have to lie there on their stomach. Clever little monkeys.

I use a bolster for my littlest ones - just stick it under their armpits to help prop them up while they are on their tummy - that way they can build up to supporting with their own arms. Also easier to see stuff if their head is a little higher off the ground.

Jenn Drake said...

Just learned that wearing a baby in a carrier counts as tummy time since it helps develop their neck muscles! hope that helps! good luck.

Amber Marlow, theAmberShow said...

You should put him on his tummy and floss.

Casey said...

I definitely know the tummy time guilt! Elise would just scream her head off so she never got more than a minute at a time. She loves to sit up (with our help, of course) and be held upright, though. Now when we put her on her tummy she's able to lift her head much higher and she's able to stay like that for longer. She's working those muscles, just not on her tummy! So the exercises you mentioned do work.

Wendi said...

Good for you for creating the Olympics. Variation is an important element!
In addition to keep his head off of surfaces, make sure he can turn his head equally both ways and there is no head tilt that might indicate muscle tightness on one side. All the tummy time in the world might not fix that and will definitely contribute to flat spots.
Check out my blog on website www.MovePlayGrow.com. Your ideas are great, the key is time and consistency.

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