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The Importance of Tummy Time

Wendi was recently featured as an expert guest on ParentSavers.com, talking about the importance of tummy time! The podcast is a total of 30 minutes with the feature interview taking place after the initial discussion about an application called Alert ID. Click on the link below to listen! We would love any and all comments! Stay tuned for a video of a Tummy to Play Everyday class from Parent Savers, which streamed live at the Your Natural Baby Fair 2013!

The Movement Community

When Strides Physical Therapy embarked on the mission to provide wellness services to the general community in addition to therapy services to those in greatest need, we were extremely passionate about getting our message out. We felt we had so much great information to share from our studies and years of practice in the realm of pediatrics and movement development, but that information was not reaching a majority of families. We wanted to empower all families with greater knowledge about their growing babies and children, to provide information that sparked dialog and informed choices. And we especially wanted to reach the babies and children, who are ALL at risk for exercise deficiency, lack of motor proficiency, and sedentary lifestyles in our electronic, wireless, mobile world. We wanted to help bring some balance back into our lives to support a healthier future, one family at a time. Thus, Move Play Grow was born!

Play: 9 to 12 months

Babies at 9 to 12 months are really moving and grooving! They are in to almost everything and will likely be pulling to stand, cruising along furniture, and preparing to take those first few wobbly steps! This is also a bittersweet time for many parents (myself included) as you see your little baby vertical – even if holding on to something! Typically, by 9 months, babies are sitting unsupported and reaching for toys, crawling (tummy up or down) and by the end of this stage, babies are creeping, pulling to stand, cruising, and some may even be walking. Their ability to move in new ways (crawl, stand, even walk) makes it easier to explore and helps them make new discoveries.

Play: 4 to 6 Months

Play starts getting more fun since your baby is more alert and begins to become an explorer and investigator versus a passive play mate.  At this age, baby starts to move too and, from here on out, won’t stop!

A 4 to 6 month old baby is quite a charmer!  He loves to smile, make silly noises at you (or anyone for that matter), to babble, and starts using his voice to get a reaction!  This is also the time when physical development gets “rolling” at an amazing rate.  Baby begins to prop sit (with arms or support), push up more on arms in tummy time and begins to roll purposefully.  Reaching becomes more and more accurate since eye hand coordination has improved.  Baby will reach for anything (ask any older sibling) and likely put most any object into his mouth to explore it.  Moving an object from one hand to the next will soon follow.   Around this time, most babies begin to sleep better so parents get to come back from the land of Sleep Deprivation (even if it’s short-lived).  With so many big changes, how can you maximize your play with this amazing little one? Below are a few ideas organized by thinking of baby’s senses!

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Touch:  Baby will love to experience different textures on his hands, face, and body.  Try introducing toys, blankets, stuffed animals with different textures.  Try putting on simple white gloves and washing your baby at bath time.  It provides a different sensation and helps you hold on to a slippery baby!  Continue with naked baby time and body exploration.  Try playing games like “where are your toes?” and then touch his toes (either with your hands or his) and say “Toes!”

 

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Sight:  Baby is ready to check out all of the new colors he can now see.  He now distinguishes between new and familiar faces which may mean a bit more clinginess to his primary caregiver.  Make sure you point out things and talk about the environment surrounding him, encouraging exploration by holding him up on your shoulder.   Mirror Play in a variety of positions (tummy, supported sitting) to let him see himself is always fun.  Try “Baby, Do What I do!”  Make various facial expressions (open mouth wide, puff cheeks out, stick out tongue) and see if he tries to imitate you.  Peek-a-boo is a great game to play with you, siblings, toys, etc.  Baby will need help initially but, pretty soon, he will have this tricky game all figured out!

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Sound:  Rattles, maracas, and very simple cause and effect toys (with your help initially) will be quite fun for baby.  Shake a rattle behind your baby’s head and let him or her turn and grab it.  Baby still loves YOU the best so use your voice!  Make silly sounds and mimic his sounds . . . the sillier the better!  One of the cutest things I get to see these days are baby and his older brother “talking”! Make sounds for your baby.  Clap your hands (help him clap his too because this will happen very soon) and help baby bang two objects together.  Play music too.  What about “zerberts”?  Isn’t blowing on your baby’s chubby baby tummy the best?  In our house, that crazy sound always gets a laugh!  Remember, many sounds in the environment will be new and novel like a dog barking, bell ringing, music, etc.  so be respectful!

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Movement:   Dance with baby.  Hold your baby in different ways (tucked in front, tummy, side) than your standard and dance away, sing, smile – in front of a mirror is even better!  Or, make it a movement activity for the entire family!  Always check on baby every 30 to 60 seconds by “freezing” or “waiting.”  This gives your little one a break to let him process the new information and reset himself in a way.  Give baby plenty of time on the floor each day.  I know this can be difficult but this floor time is one of the most essential parts of development.  It is the perfect surface and the perfect time for baby to spend time on his tummy, back, supported sitting, rocking on hands and knees all to build strength and skill to progress toward rolling, crawling, and walking.   As this stage progresses, try and have baby equal time on all four sides of the body.

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Other Helpful Hints: To help your baby focus, put out only one or two toys at a time.  Be respectful of all that baby is learning and balance stimulation with plenty of quiet time.  And, of course, be respectful of baby’s cues that he needs space or a break.  Can you imagine having to learn so many things in such a short time?  So many things are new as they move, PLAY, and grow!

Enjoy the magic and the wonder!

Play: Newborn 0 to 2 months

Once established that your newborn baby (0-2months) is in an active-alert, ready to learn, ready to play state, what on earth are you supposed to do with her!?!?! In a one word answer, LOVE her! Touch her, hold and hug her, cuddle with her, sing to her, whisper sweet nothings, give LOTS of kisses all over. But…let’s also be realistic. Newborn babies are not awake that often, and when they are they are usually eating, pooping, burping, spitting up, being changed and/or bathed, changed again, and changed again. Is there time for all this LOVE? YES! Because the love happens during all the awake duties. Don’t think about it being extra, think of it as being a part of each task. Love is a journey, not a destination!
So, slow down, don’t rush through all the tasks, take time to observe and interact with your baby during all of it. Changing at our house routinely takes 15-30 minutes because of all the play on the table. Before you know it, playtime is over and it’s nap time again! And, please, though we all know that moms and dads are super-heros, try to take a nap when your baby sleeps. These first several weeks are often about survival, especially when up many times during the night. We also know if this isn’t possible…but give yourself permission and try :-). Always good to shoot for the stars, and have someone ELSE clean the house, do laundry and make dinner too :-).

Extra ideas to play with your newborn:
– Sing nursery rhyme songs or recite rhyming poems (from memory, refresh, or learn new ones).
– Talk about what you are doing at that moment in time, or tell a story about what happened during day or the plans for rest of day. Get VERY detailed. It will take a long time!
– Observe your baby’s facial expressions and copy them. Especially the mouth/lips/tongue. You will be amazed at what your baby can “say” to you through her mouth and you will start to learn so much about her.
– Read books and show pictures, black and white work best, but you can throw in some red too. Start with simple pictures and slowly get more detailed.
– Move slowly as you work around baby so she has a chance to see and track you from side to side with her eyes.
– Tummy time!! Near and dear to our hearts at Move Play Grow. Try chest to chest with you propped up closer to vertical than horizontal at this age. OR get down on floor and lay next to your baby about 10 inches away so she can see you best.
– Wear your baby and go for a walk to get out.
– Be quiet and still. Being awake, babies are taking in even the most mundane things that we take for granted. No need to over stimulate by shaking rattles and toys in their faces, moving and bouncing all the time. Allow some “down” time too.
– Mix it up.

Most importantly, get to know your baby: observe, learn, internalize, journal (write stuff down…you think you will remember everything, but you won’t), and love her. There is NO ONE else in the world like your baby and definitely NOTHING like the unique relationship you have with her. Cherish it!

A Big 2012 Thank You

As the end of the year approaches, we wanted to wrap up by letting you know just how much our little Move Play Grow endeavor has grown . . . in more ways than one! The first Tummy Time Class was held in April 2011, one time per month. The growth in 2012 is something of which we are proud of and excited to share. Here are some highlights:

We hosted over a dozen Tummy to Play Everyday Classes at multiple locations and multiple times per month. We enjoyed a partnership with Babies in Bloom (Vista), finally became part of the education series through Parent Connections (classes to begin January 2013), and now offer Saturday classes in Solana Beach.

Throughout the Spring and Summer, we spoke at 3 different FREE parent education workshops (JW Tumbles Carmel Valley, El Camino Pediatrics) as well as were featured speakers at a San Diego Birth Network meeting.

In June, Move Play Grow was born and a special website and Facebook Page dedicated to baby wellness launched. We have had so much fun adding information to both on a variety of topics.

The Move Play Grow Family literally grew by two as well! In July, we welcomed Rachel’s son, Colton, and in October, Wendi’s son, Kellan. These boys are new inspiration to us as we strive to get the message of baby wellness, bonding, and development out to so many expecting moms, new parents, seasoned parents, caregivers, pediatricians, etc.

In November and December, we worked hard to provide comprehensive Facebook posts and blogs on surviving the holidays, how to help your child through the season, and, introduced the beginnings of our series/course on Buy This/Not That: navigating the big box stores, online retailers, to find the best for your baby!

*** Most importantly, a sincere, heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the families, followers, partners, and friends that we have had the pleasure of working with over this past year . . . whether at one of our classes, through our blog, or Facebook posts. If you like what you see, don’t forget to click “like” or “share” on Facebook! If you have things you would like to learn about, etc., PLEASE let us know in the comments section, via email, etc! This entire endeavor is for YOU – to support you and your family. Stay tuned to learn how we will be Moving, Playing, and Growing in 2013!!
Happy New Year! ~ Wendi and Rachel

Disclaimer
The content on this website is based on Wendi’s personal and professional experience and general research. It is not meant for individual medical diagnosis or treatment. If you are concerned about your child, please consult with your primary physician and/or therapist.