Reflux, Colic and Tummy Time

This month’s focus has been on Reflux, so it is probably useful to cover some ground about tummy time etc.
Peta Smith, Vice Chair of the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists says, “Research shows babies placed on their backs to sleep who were then placed on their front for extra time during the day were able to roll, crawl, sit, pull to stand and eventually walk earlier than those who were mainly placed on their backs … By spending time on their tummies babies learn to move from side to side and this helps them learn to reach and crawl. Not only does tummy time help with co-ordination, balance and postural control, which is the foundation for all movement skills, it increases babies’ confidence and independence helping them to become motivated to explore their surroundings as they learn to control their bodies.”

Positioning babies predominantly on their backs can mean they miss new experiences such as lifting their heads against gravity and learning to develop their arms by taking weight on them. Physiotherapists warn that a baby spending too long in carriers, baby seats and swings can also be detrimental.

So, the recommendations:

They recommend that mothers introduce “tummy time” from birth, two or three times a day for a few minutes or longer, so they get used to lying in a different position.
Remember to stay near your baby to keep them safe
In the case of newborn babies, start by lying them on your chest while you lie back or in a semi-reclined position.
Make tummy time fun by placing mirrors and colourful toys near the baby to encourage him to lift his head, stretch and move.
This advice is supported by the Director at the foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths who agrees that “when babies are awake they should spend time on their tummies – not always flat on their back. This aids healthy development.”

Peter Walker, who I trained with, was certain that the amount of colic and reflux had considerably increased since the Back to Sleep campaign because parents were not putting their babies on their fronts during wake time. He felt that the stomach was not getting the same amount of stimulation i.e. that gravity was not working to bring the organs of the digestive system down. So, this reinforces the notion of doing tummy time, however difficult it may seem.

The following is an article about Reflux that I have drawn from the Baby’s Website – I would love to know any other good material people have found
about reflux as it does seem to be a subject coming up more often.

“Acid reflux is typically considered an adult disease. However, it is actually common among infants. Some sources claim nearly 50% of infants end up suffering from acid reflux within only first few months of their lives. Most parents find their inability to understand and interpret the symptoms of acid reflux in babies frustrating. A baby who experiences acid reflux can only express this through crying, leaving the parent mystified as to the true cause of the behavior. The sooner parents educate themselves about issues commonly afflicting infants and toddlers, including acid reflux, the sooner they can prevent their baby’s pain — and their own — and end their own frustration. This is especially important because of the potential long-term negative effects of acid reflux on an infant. These include a baby’s failure to thrive because he or she does not eat enough food. Some babies experience breathing problems as a resulting of damage to their esophageal tissue caused by acid reflux. Good News About Acid Reflux in Babies. Babies who experience acid reflux exhibit behavior typical among babies. Experienced parents know that babies spit up, vomit and experience irritability regularly. It is difficult, therefore, for them to discriminate between normal baby behavior and symptoms of acid reflux in babies. Diagnosis of acid reflux in infants depends mainly on how frequent and how severe the symptoms of acid reflux in babies are. Babies suffering from acid reflux cannot keep stomach contents in their stomachs. A baby who vomits each time he or she eats could very well be exhibiting symptoms of acid reflux in babies. Unlike adult acid reflux disease, musculature does not seem to be the cause of acid reflux in infants. Instead, a baby’s young and underdeveloped digestive system is not yet well-coordinated. As a result, a baby’s stomach may become too full too fast. The situation is aggravated by the amount of time infants spend on their backs compared to adults. Parents who suspect their infant is exhibiting symptoms of acid reflux in babies should have their pediatrician examine their baby. As with adults, the first step is a lifestyle change involving things like thickening the baby food with cereal. If dietary changes fail to resolve the symptoms of acid reflux in babies, the baby may be given over-the-counter or prescription medications. Another option is a special bed that allows the infant to sleep in an inclined position, reducing the reflux. Whatever the cause of acid reflux in babies and regardless what solution provides them with the most relief, it is certainly good news that majority of infants tend to not suffer long-term consequences as a result of having the disease.