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Healthybaby because baby is soaking it all in
Underdeveloped reflexes mean that baby isn't yet able to function in a coordinated manner, which can make them uncomfortable or interfere with feedings and sleeping. Swaddling is the best soothing method, so that they can engage without those swinging arms and legs getting in the way. Remember to track Baby’s 5 States of Wakefulness.
Every time those involuntary reflexes spasm, so does the gastrointestinal tract, causing reflux and discomfort. What’s more, it’s actually the digestive system, AND the immune system AND the nervous system that are maturing at the same time. In fact, it’s all one big Neuro-Gastro-Immune system, and its main job is to learn to take in information about the world (and remember it).
Baby’s sensory system is working from birth to take in and process information around them. You can support this process with multi-sensory play, laying the foundation for healthy development and sensory integration.
Stimulating the Neuro-Gastro-Immune system takes many forms. Tummy Time is a big one. After a nap or a diaper change, place baby down on their tummy on a clean blanket or mat. Bring your face down to their eye level and use your voice to engage and reassure them. Try using a non-breakable mirror or a few interesting objects to stimulate them into a few minutes of working on lifting their head and pushing down on their arms.
Because they still have primitive reflexes that interfere with their ability to control their bodies, not all babies like this position at first. Even if they only do 30 seconds at first, over time, you can increase Tummy Time by small increments—3 to 5 minutes at a time. As they get to be 2 or 3 months, Tummy Time sessions should last 10 to 15 minutes. Once they gain neck control and can lift themselves higher, babies start to really exploring the world from this vantage point.
If Tummy Time on the floor isn’t happening for your little one, you can practice a few alternate positions to continue to promote this skill:
1. Sitting on the floor with your back reclined, position baby tummy down on your chest. Because they are close to you, this position will help them to regulate and motivate them to work their head and back muscles, so they can lift their head to engage with you. (Picture a baby pushup.)
2. Carry baby around the house tummy-cradle style to encourage engagement with their environment. This position will help motivate them to continue to work on the strength needed to lift their head.
3. Sit cross legged and position baby’s tummy on your elevated thigh, reducing the impact of gravity and making it easier for them to lift their head and weight-bear through their arms. Also, placing a mirror or toy in front of them will help to motivate baby to keep their head up.
Diaper changes with Our EWG-VERIFIED Diaper are a great reminder to build Tummy Time into your routine as you can gently roll baby over onto their stomach after a change for an appropriate increment of Tummy Time.
In short: Tummy Time is important for helping baby to develop strong neck and shoulder muscles. The long version: Tummy Time activates cranial nerves that together are known as the Social Engagement Network, which will be essential later in life for higher cognitive functions like social connection, attention, and emotional regulation. Tummy Time also activates spinal cord nerves that set the stage for more advanced motor development (rolling over, crawling, and eventually, walking). Plus, Tummy Time helps avoid Positional Plagiocephaly—flattening of the head caused by long periods on the back or side.
Despite baby’s immature immune system, getting exposure to fresh air is an important part of development and an amazing opportunity to engage their senses, especially olfactory. If you can, take baby on a 10 to 20 minute walk every day and seek out something naturally fragrant like a sprig of lavender. Wearing them in a baby carrier may be easiest at this age, but the stroller works, too. Dress them appropriately, and venture out in any weather that you can safely manage. Talk to baby about what is going on around them—wind, leaves, animals, even traffic—and let them feel the wonder, enjoyment, and relaxation that you are both experiencing (try to avoid settings that may be overstimulating).
Science tells us that time spent outdoors can improve physical and emotional health for infants and their caregivers. Getting them used to the sounds, smells, and feels of nature is a great start to providing important stimulation for their sensory system, building their immune system, and facilitating better sleep. Meanwhile, for adults, time spent outdoors has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
While your little one is relaxed, pick up any textured material – a wipe, a cotton ball, or even a swaddle would work – and slowly trace down the inside of your baby’s wrist to their hands, and then along their ankles to the bottom of the feet. If they are comfortable, repeat with new textures or use the same textures on opposite sides.
This activity stimulates your baby’s somatosensory system – the area of the brain responsible for processing tactile information. More specifically, by gently tracing hands and feet, you are helping your baby develop their body map. Body maps aid the development of physical skills and are crucial for your baby to understand the connection between oneself and others.
Baby Blues is super common. Over 80% of women—and even many partners—can develop symptoms, which usually pass on their own. However, if intense feelings of sadness, irritability, impatience, and tearfulness last more than several days without a break, or interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks and activities, you may be experiencing a more serious condition like postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Both are treatable medical conditions. Research shows that getting treatment is not only important for your health, but directly impacts the health and development of baby, too. Contact your OB, your child’s pediatrician, the Postpartum Support International (PSI) hotline at 800-944-4773, or involve those around you to help get you treatment.
You’re tired, hormonal, and adjusting to a major life change. We’ve been there. Keep it front of mind that taking care of you is an essential part of taking care of your baby. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t only justifiable, it’s to be expected; carving out time to take care of yourself is essential. Think of it this way: When you feel calm and regulated, you are better equipped to help your baby to calm. Throughout your journey as a parent from here on out, making sure you are supported and healthy will be a key component in caring for your child. It isn’t selfish, it’s science. Pass the baby off for a diaper change when you need a break, limit visitors if they are overwhelming, take a shower! Permission to prioritize you and your new little one: Granted.
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