Does your baby cry the minute you place them on their belly? Well, don’t worry! Your baby will learn to enjoy tummy time if you follow these tips!

tummy time

Entertainment: As you can imagine, it can get pretty boring staring at the floor. Provide your infant with a light up toy that plays music during tummy time. This will help distract them, allowing them to tolerate tummy time a little bit longer. It can also motivate them to lift their head just a little bit higher! You can also try getting on the floor with them. They love to see your face!
**Tip: Babies love to look at themselves in a mirror!

Assistance: Try working up to that “flat on the floor” tummy time. Start by having tummy time on your chest, then move onto the boppy, and then on a flat and firm surface. They will get stronger and stronger with each transition and eventually playtime on the floor will be easy and enjoyable!
**Tip: Place a rolled up towel underneath your baby’s chest and armpits if having trouble getting up on his/her forearms.

Timing: Who wants to work at lifting their head and pushing up on their arms when they are tired and/or hungry? A good time to do tummy time is after a good nap or 1 hour after feeding time.
**Tip: Just like everything else, make tummy time a part of your daily routine and pick times when you know your infant is most alert and happy.

Why is tummy time so important? By placing your infant on their belly, he/she will gain the skills needed to push up, roll over, crawl, and pull to stand. Your baby should be placed on the belly multiple times throughout the day. If your baby only tolerates a few minutes of tummy time, that’s okay! If your baby only tolerates one minute on their belly today, try attempting 2 minutes tomorrow. The more often your baby is placed in that position, the quicker they will learn to tolerate it.

Remember: Always put your baby on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). During wake hours, allow your baby plenty of playtime on his/her belly (at least 30 minutes total per day)!

While I certainly did not stress over teaching my daughter EVERY sign I could, I did find that teaching her the sign for “more” was so helpful!  She would proudly tap her fingers together, and from there I could figure out what she wanted “more” of.  Easy!  Next, I taught her “all done”, “drink”, and “eat.”  For me, those 4 magic signs did the trick!

Teaching my daughter her signs was a long, patient process of repetition, repetition, and more repetition!  My friends who are speech therapists always said that not every baby takes to sign language.  Based on that, I tried really hard to just make learning signs fun!

Teaching your baby a few (or many!) signs can help: reduce frustration and tantrums, improve parent and child bonding, assist baby in learning to communicate earlier, improve baby’s confidence!  Not only that, but it’s so neat when your little bit FINALLY can tell you what he or she wants!

Suggested Steps for Teaching Your Baby to Sign

1.  Pick a few minutes a day to work on ONE sign at a time when your baby is alert, calm, and interested.  Minimize distractions if possible (i.e. television, phone).

2.  Say the word while you make the sign with your hands.  Try to repeat and repeat!  For example, “more” is easy to teach while baby is eating.  When you have your hungry baby’s attention, say and sign “more” before you give baby each spoon of food.  Before you give your baby her bottle, say and sign “drink.”

3.  Also try helping baby make the signs with his or her hands while you say the word.

4.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!

5.  Prepare to get REALLY excited when baby shows you his or her first sign!

Happy Signing!

For more information on Baby Sign Language, check out:

Pictures of Basic Baby Signs

Parent Magazine Teaching Baby Sign Language

I’m a psycho planner, and I’m cool with it. This often requires me staying up the entire night before a big event or trip due to the fear of forgetting something that I just had to have. Naturally, when it was my turn to pack my hospital bags, I scoured books and the Internet to come up with the “perfect” list of pushing essentials. I never wanted for anything during my admission – except for Sushi and to cuddle with my sweet baby While this list may not be for everyone, I hope it serves as a good starting point!

First of all, many people recommended that I pack two bags – one for labor and one for after. I think this approach could work for some, but I organized mine a bit differently because some items I knew I would need the entire time. We did not bring in everything right away, and we made sure the inital essentials were packed together to go in first.

I used my “go to” bags, the huge, plastic Ikea ones because:

1. They are cheap, if they were lost, damaged, or dirtied, who cared?

2. They can hold tons without ripping and have a wide opening for easy access. Take that, grandma-bag syndrome (where everything falls to the bottom and you cannot.find.anything!). Now is not the time to be searching. Another tip: Save yourself a potential headache. Take the time to review what is packed where with your labor partner. There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing where things are or what things look like! You need to focus your energy on staying calm momma, not watching someone rummaging through your meticulously-packed bags.

Bring 4-5 plastic grocery bags for organizing items, dirty clothes, and for containing additional items acquired during the admission (think diapers, bottle nipples, gifts, etc). You will be surprised what you end up with during your stay!

Pack a separate “food” bag that is easily accessible throw in candy such as gum, blow-pops, jolly ranchers – I was told these are ok after the food “cut-off” during labor, but of course check with your doctor first snacks for dad to be and snacks for mom after the delivery (be sure to pack energy-boosting portables like almonds and bars) plastic, refillable water bottles (why bring in water when you can just use a water fountain and that awesome hospital ice!) a Ziploc bag containing $10-$15 in coins for vending machines, be prepared to not love what’s for dinner and also be prepared to miss some of the hospital meals as there will be people in and out of your room constantly

What to pack and leave in the car when you are getting close 1-2 towels, car seat protective cover in case your water is leaking (better to be safe than sorry!) Candy for distraction (gum, blow pops, mints – whatever you love!) Snacks and drinks so you can stock up before being cut off Pen and paper Tennis ball or something to squeeze for stress relief Extra pair of underwear, change of clothes (this baby is going to come when she wants to come, even if you are in the middle of a shopping spree!) Sanitary pads Handi-wipes Make sure your insurance cards are easily accessible as well as a folder of important papers you are bringing with you

For mom during labor Stress-relief items (handheld massager, stress squeezer (tennis ball works well for both!), ice bag and/or hot pack (you will need to check with your doctor before using these), lavendar massage lotion, iPod, headphones, movies…Silly Putty worked wonders for me!) Handi-wipes and/or antibacterial hand soap Ready to go facial cleansing towelettes are refreshing when you are confined to your bed Tennis shoes and/or non-slip shoes for walking if you are allowed to do so Soft, comfortable socks Chapstick (the breathing and medicines can really dry you out!) Saline nasal spray Eye drops Eyeglasses, extra pairs of contacts Hand lotion Watch, pen, and paper if you want to track things yourself – honestly, once Camera with charger (don’t forget your chargers!) Extra pillow or two from home, you could even bring your fancy maternity pillow or body pillow if you have one. Be prepared for the labor bed to be uncomfortable because the bottom half is removable for the main event. Hair ties, hair bands, hair brush Ear plugs and sleep mask – trust me, your “rest time” may be in broad daylight and you need your energy

For mom after delivery 2-3 nursing bras and a handful of nursing pads Lanolin if you are attempting breastfeeding to provide comfort 4-5 pairs of old, comfortable underwear from home that you will probably just toss (the mesh ones the hospital provides can shift and, let’s face it, there’s nothing like being in your own pair of undies!) Sanitary pads that are long and for heavy flow – the hospitals’ are from the dark ages Comfortable loungewear – nothing too tight “down there” (I found maxi dresses to do the trick because they were comfortable and easily adjusted for breast feeding and pumping) Robe (although you can just use hospital gown backwards) Toiletries Flip flops for the shower Compression socks to assist with swelling reduction – check with your MD first! Nursing tops and sleepwear as hospital gowns can be itchy and quite hot

For dad Toiletries Comfortable clothes Flip flops for shower Sleep mask, ear plugs Pillow from home Entertainment gear – whatever will keep him occupied!

For baby

Birthing hospitals often provide all the essentials for baby. Check with them first to make sure you are not doubling your efforts! I am sure you have been eyeing those pretty burp clothes and bibs for quite some time, but consider just using the hospital’s so you can save your nice things for home. Pacifier of choice if you will be using one 2-3 wrap-top shirts with buttons that are easy to get on/off, socks, mittens, hat Blanket Car seat “Going home” outfit Baby journal to snag a precious footprint and jot down special memories

That should do it! Please comment on anything you also found to be helpful. Good luck!

Make Your Own Beach Bouncy Seat!

Who says you have to cart a baby seat to the beach? Use your beach chair footrest! Simply unhook the footrest from your beach chair. Next, prop it in the sand so it is on an incline. Support baby with blanket rolls and a blanket “hammock”. ALWAYS DIRECTLY SUPERVISE your baby and do not leave unattended!

Is your little cruiser ready to take off? After months of playing on his back, tummy, and in sitting, it is time for those first baby steps! Being a parent myself, I understand how exciting this time is. Remember that all babies develop (and walk!) at their own speed. As difficult as it can be, try not to base your baby’s progress on what your best friend’s baby is doing. Being a parent is tough enough as it is, and the last thing you need is to turn the walking race into a stressful competition. Here are some tips to encourage first baby steps:

Safety first! Banish cords, sharp corners, unsteady furniture before the take-off with approved baby-proofing items. Keep your hands on your baby to reduce the risk of injury.

 

Master standing and playing facing a stable surface – let baby play with toys while you sit behind her for support. Try a couch or sturdy low table (corners protected, of course!).
Encourage baby to take steps side to side along the couch by placing toys juussst out of reach. No steps yet? Help your baby shift his weight off of the leg you want him to step with by tilting his hips to the side. A baby cannot step on a leg he is using to stand on.
Now the fun begins! Encourage your little one’s first baby steps forward with this progression:
1.  Hand and body support from parent or stable push toy
2.  Practice holding both of baby’s hands. When baby has mastered this, just hold one hand.
3.  Practice taking steps between stable furniture (i.e. couch to sofa). Remember: hands on baby! Infant walkers can help baby to “get the idea,” but limit time in these to no more than 1 hour daily to make sure your baby is learning to use the correct muscles for walking.
4.  Now it’s time to work toward no hands! To do this, walk facing baby while you both hold onto a hula hoop or similar object. Then, practice while both holding onto a towel. This exercise reduces baby’s dependency on your hands and improves his confidence. Next stop? No hands!
5.  Practice stepping between parents less than 1 foot apart. Increase distance between as able
6. Walking alone on flat, level surface
7. The ultimate challenge? Walking alone on bumpy, uneven surfaces (outside!), uphill, downhill, over objects…the list goes on and on!
Contrary to popular belief…your child does not HAVE to walk at 12 months. As therapists, we worry when babies are walking too early (or skip crawling!) or if a child is at least 16-17 months old and is still not walking independently. It is best for babies to walk barefoot as much as possible when their environments allow. This is to develop the muscles in their feet. However, if a child is approaching 17 months and not yet walking, it is best to let them practice in supportive shoes at that point. Make sure to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. HAPPY WALKING!

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