One of the best ways to help prevent your child from developing an abnormal head shape is by introducing Tummy Time activities into their daily routine. This can start from the very first day you bring your child home from the hospital! Tummy Time is an important aspect of an infant’s development process, and the first 3 to 4 months can be especially helpful in developing the strength and coordination that is necessary for future rolling and crawling abilities. Here are five activities that you can try with your child to make Tummy Time a regular part of your daily care and bonding experiences!
Number One: Positioning your baby on your chest. By reclining or lying down with your baby and positioning him on your chest, your child can begin to develop the strength and movements that lead to head control, pushing up from the floor, trunk control, sitting and eventually crawling and rolling. Lift your child’s head up once in a while as it encourages your child to look at you while playing. Turn the head to the right and left occasionally as this will also help to improve the range of motion of the neck and reduce the baby’s preferred head positioning.
Number Two: Playing. Speaking of playing, spending some time on your tummy with your child can be fun and extremely beneficial! Place some toys near your child so they can practice reaching, propping, and improving their hand-eye coordination. This type of tummy time activity should always be supervised, so you might as well join in the fun!
Number Three: Carry your baby facing away from you. This vertical aspect of Tummy Time can also help improve the strength of your baby’s neck and trunk muscles. Be sure to support your child by their head and chest so that they are encouraged to look around and visually explore their surroundings. Make your child feel like superman while you are still holding them close to you!
Number Four: Diaper changing. Instead of changing your child’s diaper in a static position on their back, consider rolling them side to side as you fasten each diaper tab. This is a great way to help transition your baby from being on his back all the time and to spending some time on his side and tummy while mom and dad are close by. Another idea is to alternate placing your child’s head to the right and left sides of the changing table. This will encourage your child to turn their head in different directions to look at you. Again, adding a few minutes of playtime with a toy, funny faces or funny noises is a great way to balance the stretching and strengthening of the neck muscles.
And Number Five: Music! Tummy time is a great time to bond with your child. Consider playing some quiet, soothing music during playtime with your child on his stomach. Or, maybe your child likes to mix it up with something a little more upbeat! It all works and is a fun way to help your child learn to move around. A small roll or towel under the chest can be used to better support your child and also encourage them to look up and all around their play space. Don’t forget to both have fun!
Tummy time is an incredibly beneficial aspect of your child’s life, and can help to prevent plagiocephaly from developing. However, if you notice a flattened area on your child’s head developing or not getting better, consider talking with your doctor or an orthotist about an evaluation for a STARband.