But what if my baby doesn’t like being on his tummy??

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Roxanne Small, PT on her blog at explains:
So you are on your way to being a well-informed, awesome parent. You know that tummy time is essential for your baby. You know it can help prevent a misshapen head, improve motor skills and improve body awareness. But somehow your baby didn’t get the message…he screams every time you try tummy time. Who knew parenting could be this tough so soon?
Every baby can learn to enjoy tummy time! Every baby! Here are some suggestions:
• Be totally convinced as the parent that this is critical for your baby!
• The surface you place your baby on is important. Very young babies do not like very hard surfaces. Also babies like slippery surfaces on which to move, similar to in the womb. I have found putting down a blanket on the floor under a mat or heavy ply clear plastic vinyl (sold at fabric stores) works great! Many babies love this to be a slippery activity and will tolerate it better if you put some grape seed oil under his abdomen and arms and legs.
• Often times babies that do not tolerate being on their tummy are “turned-on” visually and do not relate well to skin sensations. When you turn your baby onto his stomach he can’t see as much visually and the front side of the body has many more sensory receptors than the backside. Start with some dim lighting and some gentle skin massage on their abdomen, arms and legs (the parts that will be touching the floor).
• Lie next to your baby on the floor. Gently roll him to his side so he can see you. Stop there for a moment and spend time gently touching and talking to him.
• Slowly roll him on his tummy and stay in his visual field while you sing or talk to him.
• Make it a successful tummy time by keeping the session short at first…increasing time as he tolerates. Toys are not important when your baby is on his tummy. This is a time for him to learn about his own body…looking at his hand or feeling his arms and legs move over the surface. When baby is closer to 6 months of age toys become more important as baby will be able to crawl to get to them.
• A benchmark is by four months of age a baby should be spending 1-½ hours per day on his tummy. Certainly not all at once, but shorter times spread through out the day.
• Babies that are having reflux issues will tolerate their tummy time better if it does not occur soon after their feeding. Also lying on the left side usually is more comfortable for babies with reflux. So spending some time on the left side before going onto tummy can be helpful.
• Be diligent! Practice this several times per day and don’t give up! Every baby can like being on his tummy! The rewards in development are great!
I am asked often if it counts for tummy time if baby lies on the parent’s chest. Certainly this is a great place to start, but it is important to sensory and motor development that baby becomes comfortable with tummy time on the floor.
Best wishes to each of you on this very important journey of parenting!

Pacifiers, Do They Spell Trouble?

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These days it is common to see children well over the age of one with a pacifier, or commonly called ‘binky,’ plugged into their mouths going about their daily routine of playing. It is also common to see children who are sucking their thumbs well past the toddler years. There is nothing wrong with utilizing the pacifier or having an infant suck their thumb unless they are overused. They help calm infants, encourage lip rounding and develop non-nutritive suckle at birth.

Normal Development
• When children are infants, they use an infantile ‘suckle’ pattern to be able to eat from a nipple for early nutrition. As the infants mature, the ‘suckling pattern’ is replaced by the more mature ‘sucking pattern.’ The difference is that in a suckle pattern, the infant has an in/out movement of the tongue and the fatty sucking pads are used for stabilization.

• The suckle/swallow reflex is normally present from birth to 9 months. Between the age of 4 and 6 months, the suckle is used in anticipation of the spoon during feeding. From 7 to 9 months, there is a mixture of tongue movements in/out and up/down.

• The true suck from this maturational pattern is found between 10 and 12 months of age. At that time the child develops the mature patterns that work to develop a normal swallow, where there is stabilization of the lips and jaw and the tongue retracts rather than moving forward.

Trouble Spots
Without eliminating the pacifier or thumb/digit sucking, there is an increased probability that a tongue thrust will develop. Tongue thrust will prevent the teeth from meeting properly, impact the child’s ability to bite and chew food efficiently, contribute to jaw joint problems and grinding of the teeth, in addition to poor articulation of sounds. Orthodontics can reposition the teeth, but without correcting the tongue thrust/muscle imbalance, the child may have orthodontic relapse where the teeth move after the braces are removed.

A helpful rule of thumb is if you no longer need to suck for nutrition, you no longer need a pacifier or thumb. If the child can talk, they don’t need a pacifier. Parents should educate themselves on the potential problems with dentition, oral musculature and speech production. Speech-Language Pathologists and orthodontists should be consulted if parents have concerns.

Written by Shelly Carr, M. S., CCC-SLP, Advanced Therapy Solutions, LLC, Gilbert, Arizona

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