Next Step Therapy Blog: Back to Sleep/Belly to Play, Part 2

Tracy 1SENECA, Pa. – Tracy Cowles, CEO and owner of Next Step Therapy, submitted the following article – Back to Sleep/Belly to Play, Part 2.

The next condition that can result from all this “back laying” and sitting is torticollis. Now, let’s think again of a newborn baby. Do they have much head/neck control? Not usually. So, if they are always lying on their back or in a seat, their head will most likely drop down to one shoulder or lay to one side. The muscles will begin to shorten and get tight on the side they are always looking to, and then it will become very difficult for them to look the other way.

Placing the baby on their belly accomplishes several things. When they are too young to be able to lift their head, YOU are in charge of which direction they are facing. Therefore, when you put them on their belly, you can have them facing one direction for a while and then turn their head to face the other direction. This just gives a very natural stretch to the neck muscles.

Another benefit to this position is that it encourages the baby to begin to strengthen those neck muscles because they will want to try to lift their head to see what is going on around them. The earlier they gain control of the head and neck the less likely they will be to develop tight neck muscles.

When your baby is old enough to follow a toy by sight or sound, make sure to have them look in all directions. One idea that I often give parents is to do these activities during diaper changes. You are already engaged with your baby so turn it into a fun little game. [Plus they get a diaper change several times a day (I hope!) so therefore, the stretches will naturally happen several times a day!]

Keep some interesting rattles near the changing table and have the baby follow the rattle to both sides and then up and down as well. (Keep in mind that it will be 2-3 months before your baby is developmentally “ready” to follow a toy – so before they are able to do that on their own, you simply need to make sure to gently turn their head in all directions a couple of times a day just to help keep them flexible.)

Using a routine like the diaper change is just a good way to remember and not have to “make” time to do their exercises. Just incorporate it into what is already your daily routine! (Or pick whatever works best for you – before or after their bottle,- depending on how hungry/cranky they are – anytime you change their clothes, whenever they are in the high chair eating, etc.)

The important thing is to pick a time that is easy for you to remember and to HAVE FUN WITH YOUR CHILD!!

Tracy


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