By three months, your baby's neck becomes a lot stronger. He can now easily turn his head around to observe, and he has fewer problems keeping his cute little head upright. But, you still have to make sure he keeps practising looking up! A baby develops physically from the top down, starting with his head and neck, so only if he practices more head-up and head-slamming movements can you further promote his physical growth and development!
Keeping your baby's head up helps promote neck development
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At the end of 3 months, a baby can usually straighten his head and keep it stable. But the duration varies from person to person, so some babies can persist for a few seconds at a time, and some babies can last longer. This is usually because of variations in the degree of development of muscles in the neck, shoulders and other areas.
No matter for how long your baby can do it, he should challenge this action more often! In fact, keeping the head upright and stable is crucial to forming a healthy cervical curve, in addition to promoting the development of the neck and back muscles – important for laying the foundation for large movements such as climbing, sitting, and standing.
A newborn baby’s spine is still very soft and the neck begins with a slightly protruding forward bend. By the time he is around 3 months old, thanks to practices in lifting his head, his neck and back muscles are strengthened and the first curvature of his spine begins to form – known as cervical lordosis, or cervical curvature. That’s why he must practice balancing his head upright to form a good cervical curvature and so that he can better balance his head on his trunk.
Tummy time for upright head and better neck curvature
[caption id="attachment_386845" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Promote neck development in your child by keeping his head up high. | Image source: iStock[/caption]
Babies can start practising the prone position by the time they reach 1 month. That’s when they learn to lift their heads and chests, and they will eventually learn to support their own weights. However, even for 3-month-old babies, tummy time is still worthy of being part of their daily activities.
That’s because tummy time is important for the physical development of 3-month-olds. It exercises the baby's neck, chest and back muscles; increases his lung capacity and promotes blood circulation; and also expands his field of vision, so that he can look at things from different angles – which is important for intellectual development. More importantly, tummy time gives the baby more opportunities to look up, which helps him to form a cervical curve as soon as possible.
However, simply trying to get a 3-month-old baby to lie on his stomach may lead to an unwillingness to cooperate. Mom and Dad should add some fun challenges and props to attract his interest in practising tummy time, and also maximise the benefits!
1. Push-up games
A 3-month-old can start practising using his wrists to support his upper limbs during tummy time. This helps him get used to raising his chest and keeping his head high. Mom and Dad can place a rolled-up blanket or cushion on top of Fisher-Price Double Sided PE Roll Mat for the baby to lie on as he practices his push-ups. The comfortable and flexible play mat is just right for supporting his lower body! The support placed under the baby, on the one hand, reduces the burden of the baby's push-ups, and on the other hand makes use of its convex arc to help the baby to raise his head, keep his head upright, and develop a cervical curve.
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2. Tummy time games
3-month-old babies can also enjoy tummy time games with parents. Intimate interactions between Mom, Dad, and Baby, and the usage of toys can prolong tummy time and enhance the baby’s motivation to practice the prone position. When the baby lies on his tummy on top of Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym’s exercise mat, and see that Mom is also on all fours in front of him while shaking the rattle attached to the piano gym, tummy time instantly becomes an interactive fun time!
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3. Fly, little airplane
Sometimes prone exercises don’t have to be on the floor or in bed! Dad can try this fun movement game: hold the baby's arms tightly face to face, then lie down while lifting the baby above you while raising your legs against the baby. It's like he is enjoying tummy time mid-air! With the support of Dad's hands and legs, the baby can raise his head and look around, which not only exercises his neck but also lets him enjoy the thrills of “flying" through the air!
Details can decide success or failure
Tummy time exercises may seem simple, but there are some caveats that deserve Mom and Dad’s attention. In particular, encouragement during training and relaxation after training often determine whether the baby is willing to resume tummy time next time.
1. Encouragement is key
Even if most babies easily learn how to prone, don't forget to encourage him! With your cheering, your baby will be more willing to take on challenges and become proactive.
2. Helping your baby relax after practices
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After the baby's prone exercises, his muscles will be in a tense state. You should caress him with Mom’s love, which not only boosts the effects of his exercise but also help your baby relax his muscles.
In short, a baby develops physically from the top down, starting with their heads and necks. This means that only when the baby's head and neck are well-developed can the rest of his body develop further! You should also encourage him to look up around him every day so that he can stabilise his head and develop a good, healthy cervical curve.
All parenting advice in this article is only intended for reference. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for further help and advice.
This article is contributed by Fisher-Price and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
© 2019 Mattel Group
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