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Tummy Time for baby – and why it’s important

Tummy Time for baby - Why it's important! Tips & information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time (TT) is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles, coordination skills and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It’s therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Since the Back To Sleep campaign (babies to sleep on their backs), babies were apparently getting less “tummy time” during the day, leading to some delays in reaching important developmental milestones such as crawling (according to this article from the BBC on the importance of Tummy Time for babies and their development). These children did catch up, however.
Some babies can really dislike tummy time, however. I found some tips on this site from a paediatric occupational therapist
– 7 tips for making tummy time a little less miserable, if TT needs some encouragement.
  • It writes about 7 steps to independent TT, starting each step a few times a day for a few minutes while progressing up the steps. It’s also a good idea not to do TT too soon after a meal otherwise there might be a bit of spit up.
  • The Little Lovely (LL) didn’t really mind TT, although in the first few months he could only tolerate a short amount of time on his tummy before making frustrated sounds. I think this was because he was working quite hard in trying to do mini push ups and so it was probably quite tiring for him.
There is a wealth of information out there on how to make tummy time fun and interesting for you both, how to assist baby with tummy time and what to do if baby does not like being on this tummy.
When I first started with LL we tried some assisted TT by rolling up a towel or blanket and putting this under his chest so that he could experience his chest being raised and pushed up from the floor, but without so much of the strain for him.
Tummy Time for baby - tips and information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time

  • Make it a bonding experience – there are different games you can play while practising TT and baby doesn’t have to be on their own, tummy down on the floor. Try placing baby on your tummy, tummy to tummy so that you can both see each other when they lift their head. Or, lie on your back and put baby on his tummy on your legs.Lift up your legs, while holding baby securely, and pretend to be an aeroplane. If baby is tummy down on the floor, use toys to encourage them to reach, move, and lift their head. Or, talk or sing to your baby to encourage this. Always supervise TT with baby.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on TT, because i’m not, but here’s a website totally devoted to it – Tummy Time Tips (from paediatric occupational therapist that you can check out for more information. It includes information on the importance of TT, what it is, how to do it (tummy time tips), and a helpful video
Some further links regarding Tummy Time that I have found on my travels:

 

Tummy Time is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles and coordination and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It's therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Have a Tummy Fun Time

How to play with a newborn baby (0-3 months) – what and why – psychology and research


What, how and why to play with your newborn. Really interesting psychology behind newborn play and what's important
As I approach the 5th month with the new baby (already!) I was looking back and thinking of the ways that we “played”. There’s a lot of time in the day so how can you play with baby and what can you do all day long? Well, apart from nappy changes, sleeps, screams, baths and other practical “stuff”, here’s some ways we played together and some of the psychology/research behind activity ideas:

 

SOUND – COMMUNE

Talking:

Face to Face time is a GREAT way to play. This means simply being face to face with baby and having a chat. You can talk about anything; something that you did that day or just make certain sounds with some over the top mouth-moving to show how you’re making it, like B-B-B-B-B-B, OOoooo.

 

→ → → Talk in a funny voice!

Talking is important but it’s a case of Quality, not Quantity

Talking in “parentese” – that baby talk that we do, characterised by higher pitch, slowed down and exaggerated intonation (6) – might irritate some but apparently it has it’s benefits; slowing speech down and exaggerating sounds, also introducing that “sing song” element to the voice is something babies like. It works well with very young babies according to this article who report that prevalence of baby talk with children (in one to one conversations rather than in groups) was linked to better language development,

The more parents exaggerated vowels – for example “How are youuuuu?” – and raised the pitch of their voices, the more the 1-year olds babbled, which is a forerunner of word production.

 

When the babies were 2 years old, parents filled out a questionnaire measuring how many words their children knew. Infants who had heard more baby talk knew more words

Singing:

Again, communication is paramount so singing counts too. Apparently, from day one babies have an ability (innate) to discriminate rhythmic patterns. See this interesting article from Psychology Today for more but in sum, you can start in utero – around 25 weeks of pregnancy the baby starts to process auditory signals – which is why newborns may prefer their mother’s voice, because it is quite familiar to them!

 

Reading:

Reading from birth is a great thing to practice, and has benefits. See my reading page for more in-depth information on the psychology of reading with babies and small children. In brief, baby will recognise their mother’s voice from the womb (1) and hearing it from day one may be familiar and comforting to them, reassuring them of your presence (2).
When we read we usually read with different expression and voices than when we talk and books/reading materials contain different vocabularies, words, expressions than what we might use in every day talk around our children. This is useful because it exposes the child to more varied language and sounds.
Reading to babies from the early months has been found (3) to be related to increased reading with babies at 8 months old (creating a reading habit), which in turn, related to language abilities at 12 and 16 months, particularly with expressive language (being able to put thoughts into words and sentences).
Interaction when reading has also been highlighted as an important element in relation to language development (4) with older babies (12 months).

 

TOUCH

The importance of touch: how what and why to play with newborn 0-3 months

Touching feet

Touching hands, touching feet – we did a lot of this in month one, mainly because his little feet were so cute. The baby and I are due to take part in a research study soon at a Baby Lab about whether infants in the early months can distinguish between a social touch and other touch. This will involve monitoring activity and touching baby’s arm with a toothbrush and then touching by hand.
Skin to skin is recommended and touch is going to be important! Research has reported increased touch to facilitate growth and development (cited in 5). Research on benefits of touch with premature babies has also influenced procedures in some hospitals such as use of “kangaroo care” where the baby receives skin to skin contact being held upright against the bare chest of the carrier (5). There is a huge wealth of literature out there about importance of touch and skin to skin with babies and infants which I encourage you to read further if this is an area of interest to you.

 

Sensory play

We also did lots of sensory play such as touching soft toys, a range of textured material and letting him touch/kick his little feet on some crunchy sounding tissue paper.Sensory play idea for newborn and 0-3 months - kicking tissue paper. The psychology of newborn play

 

SIGHT

  • Mirroring, including mirroring noises and chatting, having a conversation

  • Face time

  • Tongue talk

  • Copy Cats

How, what and why play with your newborn: stick your tongue out at them! Baby-Brain.co.uk

Nurrr

We spent a lot of time sticking our tongues out at each other! Given baby’s limited communication channels, this was something he was able to do and I sat there and “Mirrored” him, i.e. copying what he was doing and sticking my tongue out in response to him. This then turned into a kind of “conversation” where we would take it it turns. I then threw a few more facial expressions in and tongue clicks which seemed to interest him. This early study (6) writes that babies between 12-21 days old are able to imitate facial gestures, so you can try it from the first few weeks! Also loving the pictures in that article of the baby imitating “mouth opening” and especially the “lip protrusion”.

 

High contrast:

High contrast black & white images with baby - what how why play with newborns and 0-3 months

In terms of visual aspects and development, the visual system is not yet fully developed at birth (a). Baby has difficulty distinguishing between similar colours such as orange and red and so prefer high contrast colours such as black against white. We used several “high contrast” images and resources such as a black and white book and flash cards.

 

 

Let’s Face It

Face time your baby! The importance of talking with newborns and psychology of interaction

Who’s there?

Babies love looking at faces; even in the days after birth a baby will prefer to look at images of a face compared to other images. YOU are their favourite play thing and baby will be very interested in staring at you whilst you sing/talk/coocheecoo at them.

YOU are your baby’s favourite play thing!

Mirroring and attachment:

Here’s a good video about “marked mirroring” with your baby. The page has described it nicely so I’ll just quote here:

Facial expressions that help a baby to know his feelings are understood are known as ‘mirroring’. Mirroring is said to be ‘marked’ when the parent mirrors the emotion then quickly ‘marks’ the interaction with a reassuring expression. Mirroring shows the baby that he is understood and reflects the feeling he is experiencing.

 

The’marking’ helps the baby know the feeling belongs to him and that the parent understands but is not overwhelmed and is therefore able to help him or her to manage such feelings.

(Warwick Medical School, 2014, http://www.your-baby.org.uk/early-interactions/marked-mirroring-showing-they-understand-their-babys-emotions).

 

Home activities: Tummy Time, Mirror Play, Play Gym

Mirror play with baby: What why and how to play with newborn and 0-3 months

Who’s looking at you, kid?

Tummy Time, play in the mirror and play gym were some fun and easy activities we tried at home. See links for more information on these activities. Play gyms for example have some great cognitive, visual perception, grasping and reaching skills, gross motor skills, self-awareness and sensory stimulation benefits as summarized in this nice article here by Mama OT. Personally, I could really see the baby developing in terms of gross motor skills, coordination and crossing his midline to reach out and grasp at toys.

 

Getting out and about

At first I remember it seeming very daunting and difficult on a practical level to get out of the house. Add two kids to the mix and there seemed like even more obstacles and things “to do” before we could get out the front door. However, there are many benefits and aspects for parent and child including social and mental health elements. Here’s a page about choosing activities and benefits of them for maternal mental health.

 

Lastly: Enjoy this time with baby!

Kicking tissue paper fun! Sensory activity with newborn baby and 0-3 months. Baby-Brain.co.uk

Wheee!

 

 

References:

  1. Decasper AJ, Fifer WP. Of human bonding: newborns prefer their mothers’ voice. Science. 1980;208:1174 –1176.
  2. Lariviere & Rennick (2011). Parent picture-book reading to infants in the neonatal intensive care unit as an intervention supporting parent-infant interaction and later book reading. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 32 (2),  pp 146-152.
  3. Karras, J. & Braungart-Rieker, J. (2005). Effects of shared parent-infant book reading on early language acquisition. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 133-148.
  4. Julie Gros-Louis, Meredith J. West, Andrew P. King. The Influence of Interactive Context on Prelinguistic Vocalizations and Maternal Responses. Language Learning and Development, 2016; DOI:10.1080/15475441.2015.1053563
  5. Ardiel, E. L., & Rankin, C. H. (2010). The importance of touch in development. Paediatr Child Health. 2010 Mar; 15(3): 153–156.
  6. Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra, A., & Kuhl, P. K. (2014). Look who’s talking: speech style and social context in language input to infants are linked to concurrent and future speech development. Developmental Science, 17 (6): 880–891

a) Brémond-Gignac D., Copin H., Lapillonne A., Milazzo S. (2011). Visual development in infants: physiological and pathological mechanismsCurr. Opin. Ophthalmol. 22, S1–S8.

 

Preparing the toddler for a new baby

Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

Here’s looking at you, kid

How can you prepare a toddler or older child for a major change to their environment, family, view of the world and their place within all of this?

 

So the new baby arrived about 4 weeks ago. My first born (21 months at time of arrival) appears to have taken this well. He has been quite interested in the baby and wants to give him lots of kisses. He has occasionally been a bit possessive over things such as the bouncy chair that we set up for the baby. The toddler did not want baby to sit in it at all and got quite upset. Well, I suppose the chair did actually belong to the toddler in the first instance! Anyway, this made me think about how we prepared the toddler for this massive change to his life – i.e. that he was not the only child and mummy and daddy would be giving time and attention to someone else.

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Before the new arrival:

We started talking about the baby long before he was due

  • We talked about “the baby” and what was in mummy’s tummy. Toddler often pointed to my tummy and referred to it as the baby. Maybe this change in narrative has set up something around there being something new coming.
  • During pregnancy I started to talk about being “careful” and “gentle” because the toddler was accustomed to climbing over me, being picked up, sitting on me etc. Initially I was feeding toddler (more of a baby earlier on in the pregnancy) and had to adopt different positions as the weight was too much across my stomach and also had to watch out for kicks or pushes to my stomach, so we have both been aware of the “carefulness”.
  • We’ve continued the gentle and carefulness now the new baby has arrived, but as discussed this has been set up now for some time so it’s part of our awareness and behaviour around “the baby”.

 

Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - Useful books we read - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

Books we read to prepare toddler for the new arrival

We read books about becoming a big brother and new babies

  • Continuing with the narrative change idea we bought several books written especially for toddlers and young children about welcoming another child into the family. We read books every evening as part of the bedtime routine with the toddler and so it was normal for him to explore books. I’m not sure how much he took in or if he can relate the books to the situation he is now experiencing but i’m hoping:
    • 1) They started to introduce the idea of another child coming, that this is something that happens in families, normalizing the experience and,
    • 2) Gave examples/modelled what other children experienced during this time of change

 

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Once the baby was here:

Keeping the toddler’s routine and schedule the same as usual (or as close to)

Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - keep things consistent - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

What happens next?

  • Consistency and predictability are important. Keeping things stable and “as normal” were important things for us to do with our toddler once the baby arrived. This meant keeping the same nap routine/times, bedtime and routine, meal times, etc so that the toddler could feel secure and stable in his usual day-to-day activities and that he didn’t experience everything as being “thrown upside down”.
  • If you can’t do practical/physical things as you would usually, social and emotional aspects are also important e.g. the conversations and interactions you have.

 

Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

A new toy for the toddler

We bought a present to the toddler, “from” the new baby

We bought the toddler a present and we said it was from the baby. This had two benefits (or maybe more I haven’t thought about). First, it kept him busy and interested in something immediately after we got home with the baby and were slightly distracted by all things new baby related. Second, hopefully it meant that the toddler was being thought about, kept in mind, cared about and valued. Although, that said, I’m not sure what stage the 21 month old is at developmentally in terms of being aware of himself in other peoples’ minds, theory of mind, etc – but hopefully it meant something to him to receive a present.

 

I’ve spent one-to-one time with the toddler

Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

One-to-one time together: out for chips

Whilst Daddy looks after the newborn for a few hours I’ve taken the toddler out to the playground, the shops, and other activities that we would normally do together (see above about keeping things familiar and consistent). I’ve also done this in the house by just going to play with him by myself while the newborn has a (long) nap and is watched over by Daddy.

 

We’ve shared some activities (toddler + baby)

  • Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

    Toddler involving the baby in his play

    We’ve shared the same play space and toddler has helped show interesting toys to the baby.
  • There’s not that much stuff the newborn can do, but tummy time is one of them. The toddler was very interested in the baby’s tummy time and wanted to practice “rolling over” too (not that the baby can do much of that at this stage!). So I put a blanket down on the floor for the toddler so he could practice rolling, along with the baby (while I made sure the toddler didn’t roll into the baby!).
Tips on how to prepare toddler for a new baby sibling - a psychologist's perspective. baby-brain.co.uk

“Rolling over” together

Some thoughts a few months post baby:

Here’s some other things we did that I found useful when the “new” baby was a few months old:

 

Giving the toddler a role that involved him: this let me get stuff done around the house and hopefully gave the toddler a sense of importance, responsibility and attention:
  • e.g. helping with chores, fetching items (can you get me that nappy from the box), can you put this in the bin for me please? And thanking toddler for his help.
Actively and explicitly displaying to the toddler that sometimes they come first and attending to their needs:
  • e.g. saying things like “Ok baby, i’m going to change toddler’s nappy now and when i’ve finished then I can come to you”

 

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Future ideas:

Things I’m planning to do

  • Buy a double buggy or some system where I can take both of them out. The toddler and I go to different classes and meet with other parents and babies, so I feel it’s important to keep going with that and book us into a few things (we were doing football previously). BUT – I need to be able to get out of the house so double buggy shopping is on the agenda!
  • I have a baby carrier/sling but want a structured “clip and go” variety for ease. I’m feeling I’m going to be slinging the baby a lot, but I need to read reviews and see which one is good in terms of usability, ease and importantly keeping baby in a healthy position!

 

 

 

Newborn baby first week – schedule and our typical day

Baby's first bath (1 week old) - Newborn baby schedule and typical day. baby-brain.co.ukNewborn baby first week – schedule and our typical day

It’s week one!! Baby is very cute, likes to sleep a lot and is picking up on his feeding. The toddler (LL) is learning to be “gentle” with the baby by touching him very softly. I’m not sure how he feels about the new addition. He is excited to see the baby but also has been a bit more mischievous and cheeky this week.

 

Here’s what we got up to the last few days:

 

Baby's first bath (1 week old) - Newborn baby schedule and typical day. baby-brain.co.uk

Baby’s first bath

♥ Had several naps, feeds, nappy changes, a few changes of clothes
♥ Face to face time, quick look at a high contrast flash card and a bit of time in his basket
♥ Visit from the community midwife (standard follow up) for weighing and check-in on any issues. Fortunately this all went fine. We had the heel-prick/newborn blood spot test, which baby did not like, but is standard and necessary for early detection of some rare health conditions
♥ Had our first bath. The midwife said to wait at least 5 days so we didn’t have one straight away. He seemed to enjoy the water. He went very calm and quiet once in there
♥ Attempted a minute of tummy time, but was bit more of him just lying on his front!
Tummy time - Newborn baby schedule and typical day. baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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