Difficulties with the prone position in the baby
“Sleep on your back, play on your stomach” is sometimes said. And that is not so wrong. The prone position is particularly stimulating for your baby’s sensorimotor development. Your baby trains its back and neck muscles and also creates more flexibility in the chest and neck area, which promotes correct attachment to the burst and good sucking motor skills. But what if your baby doesn’t want to lie on its tummy at all?
30 minutes ‘tummy time’ per day
The number of hours a baby spends on its stomach has drastically reduced over the years. Nevertheless, it is important that every baby spends half an hour per day in the prone position during its waking phase. But what is the best way to do this?
Build up slowly
It is certainly not the aim to “train” your child to hold the prone position for as long as possible. A newborn baby does not yet have so much muscle strength and its head weighs much more in relation to its small body. Therefore, it is quite strenuous for your baby to lift its head.
How can you integrate the prone position?
- A newborn already practices the prone position if you lean back slightly when sitting on the couch or if you breastfeed in a relaxed position (laid-back-breastfeeding). Carrying in a baby carrier also offers a nice change from the supine position.
- After two months, your baby starts to have more muscle strength and head balance and you can roll him onto his tummy after a nappy change, for example. Can he already stay in this position for a few minutes? Afterwards, slowly turn the baby back onto his back.
- From about 3-4 months, your baby becomes more active and also supports himself with his arms, which allows him to lie on his stomach for longer.
Several short moments together provide enough movement in a day. When your baby spontaneously starts rolling, the tummy moments of a day automatically become longer. For some, this happens a little faster than for others, and that’s perfectly fine.
There are many ways to make the prone position playful and interesting for your newborn. In the following I will give you some examples:
- On the breastfeeding pillow: Place your baby with his tummy on the pillow and at the same time put his elbows under his shoulders so that he rests on your forearms. This encourages him to lift his head.
- Put a rolled-up towel under his arms: if you walk with your child, he will be more motivated to lift his head. If this does not work, it can also help to put some counter-pressure on his bottom (by putting your hand on it, for example).
- On the floor: If you yourself are sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out, you can put your baby over your leg. Son you can easily make him look at a toy to stimulate him to lift his head.
- Rock & Roll: Use an inflatable ball (put a towel over it to make it more comfortable) and rock back and forth, left and right: a great exercise to stimulate proprioception! This is also very nice to do in front of a mirror.
- Playing aeroplane: When your baby is about 3 months old, he will love this: Lie on your back with your legs bent and your baby on your lower legs. Then rock back and forth and make funny noises! Success guaranteed!
- Carrying on the stomach: Carry your baby in the prone position on your arm and take a walk through the flat or garden. Name the things you come across, but remember that it cannot see far yet.
- On the chest: Place your baby regularly on your chest while lying on your back. Looking at your baby encourages him to concentrate. Of course, you can also take a cuddly toy or toy to get his attention. The more upright you sit, the easier it is for your baby.
If your baby doesn’t like tummy time
Challenging your baby is good, but forcing it is absolutely not necessary. When your child has had enough, you’d better stop and try again later in the day.
If your baby inevitably cries when placed on its tummy, there may be movement restrictions behind it. For example, a neck blockage, tension in the neck or chest area or the diaphragm can cause your baby to have difficulty sitting up or turning his head gently.
If you have digestive problems, your baby may not want to put pressure on its tummy. An appointment with an osteopath can then be very useful. The sooner a loss of movement can be recognised and remedied, the freer your child can develop… ready to discover the world!