As per the doctor’s orders we must start tummy time ASAP! Never knew you had to start it right away. It strengthens their back and neck and it is recommended for at least 60 minutes for babies under 3 months. Over 3 months you should do it for 90 minutes! And of course you can break it up and do small increments throughout the day. I would definitely try to avoid too much time in car seats, swings, carriers, and strollers since it could make the issue of flat heads worse. We found that laying on our stomach and placing our son Roman’s face down on our chest was initially helpful. We then started to put him on his stomach on a flat surface such as his activity gym or a firm bed. To give him stability a physical therapist recommended we put one of our hands on his tushy and push down. She also recommended we put something exciting in front of him so he doesn’t think about being on his tummy, but keeps his focus on that item. Shaking a rattle is a great idea – even a water bottle if you don’t have a rattle handy! Musical or cause and effect toys work perfectly too. Our favorites ideas are below…
Bobby Pillow – This is a horseshoe shaped pillow intended to help with feeding, but I have found this item incredibly helpful many other ways as well – especially when my arms were quite tired! And it came in very handy in terms of tummy time. Since it is soft it is a great starting point. You can put your child face down in the middle and their arms and face over the pillow for them to gradually get used to the position. It can also be used for laying down and later for sitting up.
Mirror – This is perfect since you can place it in front of your child during tummy time and voila their face appears in front of them! Instant entertainment! We ordered some rectangular plastic mirrors from eBay and put them on the bottom of his bedroom door. It’s a very easy DIY activity – just get some sticky tape, put it on the back of the mirror, stick it on the bottom of a wall or door, and place your baby in front! Also feel free to walk your child to all the mirrors around the house so they can see their reflection. Make various sounds and faces in the mirror so they can begin to see what their face, lips, tongue, etc. are capable of doing! A great portable one we love is the Sassy Crib & Floor Mirror that has 2 colorful insects and a spinning ball. You can also place it upright on the floor or even attach it to the crib since it has Velcro straps. It can be used later to imitate facial expressions or work on articulation. For instance, if you are trying to teach the /f/ sound which is very visual since you touch your bottom lip to the upper teeth a mirror is perfect!
Faces – If babies could vote, they would choose to look at mommy and daddy’s face the most. It’s even a great idea to print enlarged pictures of familiar faces, glue it on cardboard, and place it in front of your baby – they will be in heaven! We personally love Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Faces book by Jane Wattenberg. It is by far one of the cutest picture books and one of the most visually stimulating for babies. It is an accordion style book that you can stand in front of the baby. We often put it in front of him during tummy time or when we have him seated. Putting it alongside his crib is also helpful for Roman since it encourages him to turn his head to the unpreferred side. The book can later be used to label emotions (eg – happy, sad) and actions (eg – crying, smiling).