Is lying on the stomach important for the development of the baby? The answer is obvious and I assume that every conscious parent knows it. When your child develops properly, lying on the stomach, having fun together in this position is a pleasure. But what to do and how to behave when the baby cries in this position, he/she does not like it and avoids it?
At the beginning, I would like to emphasize that usually babies do not like to lie on the tummy shortly after birth. It is hard to be surprised because raising the head, which is a quarter of a body weight, is a real challenge. In children developing harmoniously the muscles get strong fast enough to raise the head.
A different situation occurs in children with motor delays or neurological problems. In their case raising the head while lying on the stomach is a long-lasting process requiring a tremendous amount of strength and work and is most often associated with rebellion and crying. This does not mean, however, that it is a painful process (unfortunately, I often encounter such a misconception in parents). I realize that baby crying and crying is not a pleasant sound, but it cannot serve as an excuse. You cannot give up! You have to try! This is very important! A baby who is not lying on his/her tummy will not learn to function in this position, will have trouble keeping his/her head up properly, is unlikely to start crawling and will be less fit (his/her physical development may be disturbed even to a large extent, as he/she is not able to learn skills that lead to a bipedal position).
What are the benefits of lying on the stomach?
- Possibility of free, spontaneous training of shifting body weight.
- With this training, the baby gradually learns to change position independently by turning from back to abdomen and vice versa, and then it learns to sit up and stand up.
- It has a beneficial effect on the development of hip joints.
- The child trains the muscles of the nape of the neck, the back, and the neck.
- It allows him/her to develop a nice head shape.
- It improves the digestive system, removes excess gases and prevents colic.
- Some studies suggest that crawling has a direct impact on speech development.
- Some innovative ways of treating stuttering are even based on allow adults to crawl.
How can we accustom and encourage the baby to lie on his/her stomach?
- If a child has developmental or neurological problems and the position on the stomach involves crying, prepare mentally. The child must know that he/she will not force a change of position by screaming and crying. Tighten your teeth and hold on – do it for his/her good! Let’s get to work! There are several ways to facilitate acceptance and to trick the child into assuming this position.
- If the size of the baby allows you to do so, put the baby on your own chest. To that end, you lay down with your back supported on a pillow so that you do not lie totally flat, put the baby on you, so that his/her head is close to your chin. Then you have your baby on you, you control him/her fully, and the newborn has what it needs most – the proximity of his/her mum or dad.
- Another way is to put the baby across your lap. Children usually like this position, the belly is then unloaded, they often calm down when they are additionally gently padded on the back.
- Another idea is to laying the child on a swaddle wrap. You can lay the child on the swaddle wrap a few times a day, and this position will make it easier for him/her to prop him/herself, because his/her center of gravity will shift slightly towards the pelvis.
- Lay in front of the child in a similar position and try to make eye contact with him/her. Children love to look at their parents’ faces and hear their voice. Mom’s or dad’s face will thus be an additional motivation.
The presented methods serve to accustom to and encourage lying on the belly. Ultimately, the child should lie on a flat and stable surface such as a floor.