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New position helps promote urge to crawl

Babies don’t come out with manuals, but parents are inundated with many things to do and not to do with a new baby. One of these recommendations is tummy time.

This refers to putting a baby on a flat surface, like the floor or a crib, on his or her stomach with the intent of encouraging the baby to build up neck and back muscles for later crawling and walking.

A little tummy time allows infants opportunities to lift their heads to see objects in front of them and eventually reach out to explore and crawl.

A few minutes on the tummy several times a day or being held upright also helps to prevent a flattened skull which can happen when the back of an infant’s head is in contact with the floor, car seat or infant swing for long periods of time. However, many infants don’t like being on their tummies and there are some cautions as well.

For infants who do not like to be on their tummy, the best trick is to be at their level so the can see you. Different positions include putting the infant on your chest as you recline on the floor or a couch, or holding the infant face down on your arm or over your lap.

These positions give infants opportunities to lift their heads comfortably without landing hard on the floor.

Make a habit of gently rolling the infant over onto the stomach before being picked up or try rolling the infant to a side-lying position which is not as difficult to maintain.

If the infant becomes upset, keep tummy time short, but try it several times a day and use these other positions. For infants older than two or three months, you can place a small rolled towel under the chest to raise them up a bit.

This might make tummy time more tolerable and comfortable.

As in all infant positioning, safety is important. Be cautious in using tummy time for infants who are premature, have breathing concerns or who are otherwise ill.

Being on the tummy and compressing the lungs can be too hard for these infants, so encourage side-lying or some of the easier positions as the infant tolerates it.

On the floor, always use a thin, soft blanket or activity mat that is not too thick. Put a few interesting infant toys around to look at.

Never leave an infant on the floor, especially when there are pets or other children around. Beds are generally too soft for tummy time.

Time on the floor should be fun, so encourage your infant to stay for longer periods by lying down with him or her, showing interesting toys or playing peek-a-boo. But, it is also okay to pick your child up and have some fun time together another way.

For more information on infant development visit www.caringforkids.cps.ca or the Delta Early Child Development web site www.deltaECD.com

Yvonne Mckenna is a consultant and play therapist for the reach child and youth development society infant development program. The infant development program provides services to families in delta with infants from birth to age three. The program is for parents whose child is at risk for, or who has a delay in development. Reach is located at 3-3800 72nd in Ladner and in North Delta at 114225 84th ave.

For more information on the infant development program contact 604-946-6622 ext 318 or visit reachdevelopment.org.

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