This might not appear as anything too important to some mummies, whose babies love tummy time and develop a strong neck in no time. But my LO, despite us starting him on tummy time at 4 weeks, had a very slow development of his neck strength and still could not hold it up even at 3 months. So this post is for the mummies who experience the same as me. I did quite a bit of research and talked to a few PDs. I started doing the following, and my son had a huge improvement in neck strength – he could hold his head well at 4 months (huge improvement i would say!), and was already sitting and crawling at 6 months! All his muscles grow well after that 🙂
- Eat more protein. This didn’t seem like a very straight forward thing, but my hb and I saw such a stark difference in my boy’s progress, that I know for sure that my diet had a very direct impact on my son’s development. As I had undergone caesarean, I stayed away from chicken and eggs after giving birth, and did so for 4 straight months (chinese thinking that chicken is ‘poisonous’). I had fish everyday, and lean pork for the 1st month during confnement. But because I am in general not very much a meat person, I only made sure I had fish every day and not so much of pork or any other meats. Protein intake was further reduced after confinement when I had more control over my diet. My husband casually mentioned that protein is a building block of muscles and requested I try and eat more protein. I didn’t really think I was malnourished, but gave it a try anyway since it was simple. I consciously ate more meat, including eggs, and my boy started getting stronger! I guess I was always eating enough for myself, but I forgot that by breastfeeding my son, I should have been eating enough protein for 2. Protein was more important for a growing child who was developing a lot of muscle mass, and also boys are known to need more protein than girls. By the time I started chicken at 4 months, my boy’s growth was ahead of his peers! I now eat so much meat that I think I’m a carnivore. XD
- Let baby do tummy time on you. My baby hated tummy time. Probably because it was uncomfortable, and he had a weak neck muscle, which made it all the more uncomfortable. We alleviated that by letting him lie on us – tummy-to-tummy time, we called it. The warmth and comfort of being in contact with mom or dad definitely helped my son feel better. This type of tummy time also allowed us to do an incline so he wasn’t all flat on his tummy – so he needed less effort at the start to lift his head. Starting slow made it easier and more acceptable to him. (and inclining for a minute with a baby on your tummy builds your own abs!). Lastly, another parent can go right in front of the baby to chat and play, making tummy-to-tummy time extremely fun.
- Move the world to another dimension. From the time the baby is born, we place toys and mobiles right above them, where they can easily see. We also place their cots where we always walk past so they can see us. But when they do tummy time and face down, they see very different things – they can only see our legs, and their bedsheets. BORING. No wonder they hate tummy time. Change this by moving the cot mobiles or toys to their eye level when they do tummy time. Elevate the bed / playpen further during tummy time so that if you walk past, they can easily see your face and what you are doing. Or just go down to his/her level and start chatting. Make it interesting, show him a new toy or new activity every time he does tummy time, so he gets distracted by the other things and end up doing longer tummy time than he initially “planned”.