Tummy Time Connundrum

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We’re thrilled to run our first guest post of 2013!  This week, Dan Rindler shares some advice on what to do when babies express discomfort during tummy time.  Dan is a Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Director of child’space NYC. It’s a pleasure to have him as a guest contributor to our site. Below he answers one of his clients’ most frequently asked questions.

“My pediatrician recommended tummy-time every day, but my baby doesn’t last more than a minute or two on her tummy.  Do I leave her there when she’s crying and for how long?”

Because tummy-time is challenging for many babies, parents may feel caught between listening to their pediatrician and listening to the discomfort their baby is expressing.  It’s a difficult position to be in.

My first recommendation is that you stay connected and interact with your baby while she’s on her tummy.  Watch her face, not the clock.  You can keep a hand on her back so she knows you’re there, or lie down next to her and have some face-to-face time together on the floor.  If she cries, let her know that you hear her and that you know that this is difficult for her.

Next, watch your baby on her tummy.  As she begins to express frustration, does it also show in her body?  Does she have a tight chest, clenched fists, and stiff legs or does she move with ease?  If her body is tight, I don’t believe there’s much benefit to staying on her tummy right now.  Transition her to another position and feel no guilt for ending tummy-time!  You can always try again at a later time.  However, if you hear a cry that is more of a complaint than distress, and the movements of her body seem relatively free, then it may be okay to give her a little more time on her belly.  (Of course it’s always your choice as a parent – your ideas on crying should take precedent.)

If you stay connected, watch body language, and try many short sessions, tummy-time won’t continue to feel like taking one’s medicine –and you’ll both breathe easier for it!

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