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Mum of 1

My daughter is almost five months old and has always hated tummy time. This is my first baby, and I don’t think I got the importance of getting them used to tummy time early. She’s always turned her head to the left when I tried and so has developed a flat part on the left and a bald spot on the right.

I’ve taken her to a physio, and she thinks it’s because her neck muscles are tight. I am struggling to practice the tips that the physio gave me as my little girl finds them unpleasant. I have to keep her off her back as much as possible and do more tummy time.

Please can someone help me with making my baby more comfortable with this? She seems to be fine when she’s lying on my chest (with me lying on the floor), but I can’t do that all the time. I’ve bought tummy time pillow and toys. I have tried lying on the floor with her, rubbing her back so she knows I’m there and encouraging her. But she just hates it. The flat bit will just get worse and I feel like I’m at the end of my tether already.

Hi! So first off - don’t feel bad! I’m a physical therapist and I had to treat a flat spot on my baby’s head and tummy time was a struggle too!

Things to consider on tummy time… is your baby pooing regularly? When mine was constipated, he would hate tummy time because it hurt his belly. Is your baby struggling with acid reflux? Are you doing tummy time on a cosy surface? We have an area close to our sliding doors and I realized that the carpet there was always cold in winter. These are small things, but definitely worth mentioning!

But on to the therapy side of things. You mentioned trying tummy time pillows and toys, which is great, especially tummy time books that are propped up as they have to extend their neck to see them. Have you come across water mats? Sine my baby loves bath time, the water distracted him during tummy time.

You also mentioned having your baby on your chest - this is a great way to introduce tummy time initially, but not always feasible when you have things to do, right!? A key part of treating torticollis (often the cause of flat spots) is stretching out the muscles on the other side of the neck. So try wearing her on your chest and have her look the opposite way from the flat spot. If she falls asleep like this, you’ll get a prolonged stretch of the neck.

Are you breast or bottle feeding? If you’re breastfeeding, lie her on the opposite side of the flat spot to feed regardless of which side she’s feeding from (use football hold). If you’re bottle feeding, feed her to the opposite side so she has to turn her head to reach.

Another technique we use is to hold them on their side, facing away from you - this forces them to turn their neck on the side that’s weaker. You can also carry them on their belly – but beware of spit puddles!

Since you can’t carry her around all day, I also loved the foam head shaping pillow from Luvnest. It keeps them from putting so much weight on the flat spot. I would also use a monitor to check on him in nap time and go in and rotate his head when he’s looking the wrong way. I hope some of these strategies help you!

Mum of 1