Tummy Time

"Tummy time" is one of the most important things you can do with your child to encourage their physical development.  Tummy time forces infants to build neck and back muscles when they lift up their head and encouraged upper body strength when they try to push up their arms.

We have been aware of the importance of tummy time since before EH was born.  At the Baby Basics class that we took through Magee Women's Hospital, the instructor encouraged us to do tummy time with our infants every single day, even when they were only a few days old.  At that early age, they can't do much and probably won't like being on their stomachs but it at least gets them used to facing down.

Most of us were probably raised by being put to sleep on our stomachs, but in 1994 the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development started the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which encouraged parents to put their child to sleep on their back, as an attempt to reduce the instance of SIDS.  So infants - who are the ultimate creatures of habit - become so used to being on their backs that they start hating being on their stomachs.

EH is one of those creatures.  He hates tummy time.  I think I've maybe mentioned this at least once, twice, or maybe a dozen times.  One day in January I had to work until 8 p.m., so it was after 8:30 by the time I got home.  EH is usually in bed by then, but he had gotten a good nap and was still in a good mood, so DH kept him awake so that I could see him before he went to bed.  I start walking up the stairs from the garage and there is EH, laying on the floor on his tummy with his head up, alert as can be, looking around.

It melted my heart.  It was so cute.

This is what tummy time is supposed to look like.  Your child using their neck muscles, holding themselves up with the strength of their arms and looking at the world around them.  But those moments are rare in EH's world.

Usually EH's tummy time involves him on his stomach, banging his face into the floor, and some screaming. Lots and lots of screaming. It's so pathetically sad that I can't bear to photograph it.

But EH is developmentally behind in this area, and his pediatrician is concerned.  He wants us to put EH on his stomach at least 20 times a day, for 2 minutes at a time, to get him used to it.  There's no way we can pull off 20 times in the limited amount of time that we are with him in the morning and evenings, but we're going to do the best that we can.

Our new objective is do tummy time with EH as much as we possibly can. His new caretaker is also working on tummy time with him and he's already starting to show some signs of improvement.  He's rolled over twice for her (none for us, yet) and she says that although he still cries initially, he usually gets over it quickly enough if she works hard at entertaining him.

He goes back for a follow up visit to the pediatrician in two weeks.  At that time, they're going to determine whether or not they feel that we should start having him work with an early intervention specialist.  Although we are willing to do that if it comes to it, we're hoping that we'll be able to get him there on his own. 

It's hard and it's sad to watch him be so unhappy on his tummy, but I'm pretty sure I just need to get over it, since I think that a big part of parenthood is letting your child struggle and not always jumping in to rescue him.  We didn't like that his old day care sometimes left him alone to cry, but it's that frustration that forces him to do something about his situation. As hard as it is for me to watch him struggle, I need to remember that he is learning and growing stronger, whether he likes it or not. 


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