If you have a baby, then you have most likely heard about tummy time!
Tummy time is when your baby plays on their tummy while awake and supervised. It helps with upper body development and Alberta Health Services recommends you begin shortly after birth.
Because the skull bones in your baby’s head are soft for the first year, flat areas can develop if your baby spends most of their time lying down. These changes to your baby’s head or face shape, called plagiocephaly, will not affect their development, or physical and mental growth but are obviously undesirable and can be permanent if not treated soon enough.
Should your baby develop a flat area on their head, your doctor may recommend a special helmet to correct the baby’s head shape.
The good news is, flat spots on your baby’s head are completely preventable. One of the most popular recommendations for preventing them is to allow your baby to have plenty of tummy time when awake but I know I am not the only one who has been frustrated by tummy time. Many babies dislike tummy time.
Alternatives to Tummy Time and Other Ways to Prevent Flat Spots on Your Baby’s Head
· Wear your baby in an infant carrier, especially facing you. The baby wearing experts at Calgary’s Babes In Arms can help you find the perfect carrier for your needs.
· Practice tummy time with your baby on your chest by lying flat on your back. Talk to your baby, make faces, and show them high contrast objects.
· Frequently change the arm you use to carry your baby. Many parents have a tendency to always carry their baby on the same side. This puts pressure on the same side of baby’s head and encourages uneven muscle development. Carrying your baby on one side of your body more than the other can also create problems for you, especially as your baby gets heavier.
· When breastfeeding, feed baby on both breasts at each feeding.
· If you are bottle feeding, alternate the arm you hold your baby with when you give them a bottle.
· Move safety seats, swings, bouncy chairs and other devices around the room so that your baby has the opportunity to look around and is not always holding their head in the same position.
· Try rolling a receiving blanket up tightly under your baby’s chest with their arms in front during tummy time for added comfort.
· Get down on the floor with your baby during tummy time and play with them!
· Take your baby to see a chiropractor who has experience with babies. In Calgary, The Wellness Studio has an amazing team of family chiropractors.
Remember, tummy time is for when your baby is alert and you are keeping an eye on them. Always place your baby on their back to sleep to prevent SIDS. Supervise your baby when they are on their tummy or side, and always move them to their back if they fall asleep.
“Back to sleep, tummy to play!”