Movement is vital for the healthy growth and development of your baby. Most of your baby’s movements at the beginning are reflexes like sucking, grasping and rooting, as they grow older the movements become more voluntary.
You can help develop movement skills during the first few months by playing with your baby. Try activities such as playing peek-a-boo, massage, holding, rocking and carrying your child in different positions.
- Provide supervised “tummy time” and side-lying play several times during the day. An easy way to make sure that your baby is getting frequent tummy time is to put your baby on their tummy after every diaper change.
- When your baby is a newborn you can do tummy time with them by placing them on your chest and reclining back, they will lift their head to look at your face.
- Use toys designed for tummy and side-lying play, such as mirrors and brightly colored or musical toys.
- Make sure that your baby is not always looking in the same direction. Use visually stimulating toys or the sound of your voice to encourage your baby to look to either side. Offer toys from different directions.
- Alternate the arm you use to carry your baby.
- Offer your baby both breasts at each feeding. If your baby is having difficulty breast/chestfeeding on one side, this may be an indication of neck muscle tightness and you should contact your doctor or public health nurse. If bottle feeding, alternate the arm you use to feed your baby.
- Limit the amount of time that your baby spends in car seats, bouncy seats, or swings, particularly before three months of age. If you are using any of these items often, try to position your baby’s head so it is not tipped or turned to one side. When your baby is awake, use rolled up towels to help you do this.
Check with your doctor or public health nurse if you notice:
Your baby is always looking in one direction or their head is tipped to one side
Ongoing difficulty breast/chestfeeding on one side
Difficulty positioning your baby’s head to one side
A big change in your baby’s head shape
See the section, “Your Baby’s Head” earlier in this class for more information on preventing plagiocephaly, a flat section on baby’s head.