Tummy Time is Tough


I woke up this morning with a little hand on my nose and a little finger poking its way up my nostril. When I opened my eyes there was Isa, inches away from my face with a big fat smile on his chubby cheeks. Upon seeing my eyes open, he let out a “good morning” shriek announcing that the day had officially begun. At 8:30am, this was early for the little tubby. He usually doesn’t get his coffee and New York Times until about 10am, but this morning he was awake with the excitement of exploration. Little Isa has fully entered the world of hands—grabbing at everything and attempting to inset it into his mouth. This morning, it was my nose and he did a very good job on the grabbing part, but since it was attached to my face, he didn’t get far with the “inserting” part. So we got up and tried to get Poppa interested in the game, but he announced that it was “too early” and that he’d be going back to bed. So Isa and I set out for the living room floor where I placed a collection of his little toys on a blanket to practice “tummy time.” If you are a new parent or about to become one you know about “tummy time.” Since the days of putting babies to sleep on their backs to lower the chances of SIDS, babies are missing some of the developmental mile stones with regard to muscle development, like holding their head up, rolling over, crawling, ect. Babies used to sleep on their stomach, which allowed for lots of exercise of the arm, chest, and neck muscles. So to make up for that, Doctors tell us to put our babies down on their bellies for supervised playtime several times a day. Isa doesn’t like tummy time and while he’s been advanced in many milestones so far, upper body strength isn’t one of them. He can last a minute or two, but then he fusses and moans and Eduardo and I wimp out and pick him up. Maribel has better staying power and will let him whimper a good long while before letting him give up. Other times, we put him down for tummy time and he promptly falls asleep, as he is doing right now, so I just put a blanket on him and obsessively check that he’s still breathing every minute. Watching poor little Isa struggle with building his strength so he can hold himself up is very emotional. It’s bearing witness to the original struggle of mastering command over the body to become a person—the most basic control that we will all take for granted the rest of our lives. The urge to want to protect him from even this pain is strong but must be quieted and not acted on. I will sit beside him and encourage him and sooth him when it gets so frustrating he cries, but I can not do it for him. Only Isa can learn to hold his own head up.



4 responses to “Tummy Time is Tough

  1. i laughed when i read this posting because i’m going through the same exact thing with keira – she’s good for about a minute, lifting her head, moving it from side to side, but then starts fussing and crying, her face smashed faced down upon the mat into her own drool…so i too wimp out and pick her up. hopefully both our babies will get better at tummy time!

  2. Isa,you have the most intelligent eyes…

  3. It’s official, I love Isa.

  4. Hi,

    I work for Pathways Awareness Foundation, an organization that recently got together a group of surgeons, physical therapists, pediatricians and nurses who are experts on early motor development to come up with a set of tummy time standards. The recommendations deal with how much tummy time babies need, how to incorporate it into your baby’s day, and what exactly to do with a newborn vs. a 3-week-old. With your blog entry on tummy time, I thought you might be interested in this article. I hope the link is helpful! http://www.pathwaysawareness.org/?q=whatcanido/276

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