The following is a guest post from Laura Patrick, owner of Kids Physio Group and a Pediatric Physiotherapist. I met Laura and her team recently and really love what they are doing. If you have a new baby at home, the following post provides some great proactive tips on preventing tight neck and flat head problems.
We will be holding some future Modern Mama Events at their beautiful office on Fraser & 18th Street too (Infant CPR, Potty Training, Toddler Tantrums, and more to come). Thanks to Laura and Kids Physio Group!
Guest Post: Take Your Positions!
– Tips to prevent common pediatric conditions & promote gross motor skill development
By: Laura Patrick BHK, MSc(PT)
We have more options than ever when it comes to how to positions our infants. Car seats, strollers, baby carriers, you name it – it’s out there to help parents conveniently tote their infants around.
These modern conveniences have contributed to the Kids Physio Group clinic seeing an increase in preventable pediatric conditions such as torticollis (tight neck) and plagiocephaly (flat head). Let’s face it, infant equipment is designed to make life easier for the parents and does not necessarily look at the best interest of the child. Also contributing to flat heads is the Safe Sleep or Back to Sleep campaign(1.) for infants that was implemented to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, often getting left out in this education is the importance of Tummy to Play(2.).
The question is: How much time should a infant spend in in various devices? For optimal physical development, here are some tips for parents to think about:
1) Tummy Time
– This should be started very early on in a child’s life so that they are used to it from day one.
– We hear you – your child HATES tummy time. Instead, consider a modified version that makes it a little easier – football hold, lying on tummy across your lap, lying face down on your chest or propped over a nursing pillow.
2) Bucket Car Seats
– Only in the car!
– Infants left sleeping in their car seats are more likely to develop torticollis and plagiocephaly.
– When able, transfer your child out of the car seat to a baby carriers (Ergo, Beco wraps & slings), stroller basinets (lying flat) or to their crib if they are still sleeping
– Better yet, use a convertible car seat right from day one. This will put you in a habit of modifying their position throughout the day.
3) Independent Mat Play
– Invest in a medium soft play mat for the home. This will give you a zone to plunk your infant down to practice their new-found movement skills. Kicking, bringing feet to mouth, rolling, independent sitting, reaching for toys, transitions to tummy and four- point position and eventually crawling.
– The payoff? The more time spent independently playing on a mat, the more likely your child will be to crawl.
4) Jolly Jumpers & Exersaucers (or any equipment that positions your child for them).
– Short bursts are fine to practice new standing skills.
– If your child is crawling, these devices can be useful to contain/entertain children while parents cook dinner, do laundry, take a shower etc.
– Remember, your child will begin to stand when they are able to, and they should at least be able to 4-point or crawl before using standing equipment.
Laura Patrick is the Founder and Owner of Kids Physio Group at 201-3369 Fraser St, Vancouver BC.
Interested in more information? Kids Physio Group offers one-to-on sessions for parents with infants and toddlers. Come learn more from a pediatric physiotherapist about specific activities that will promote gross motor milestone achievement. We will teach you valuable information on positioning and handling a young child for optimal motor development. We also offer treatment for infants with torticollis and plagiocephaly.
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(1) In 1993, the Government of Canada, along with other international organizations, recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep and in 1999, reinforced this message by launching the Back to Sleep campaign. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/ stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/jsss-ecss-eng.php
(2) Infants will benefit from supervised tummy time, when they are awake, several times every day, to counteract any effects of regular back sleeping on muscle development or the chance of developing plagiocephaly, commonly referred to as flat head. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp- ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/jsss-ecss-eng.php