Day 1 On the Belly Assessment

On the Belly

There is one very important milestone I have not yet mentioned in this course, although I know many parents would very much like to improve it: lying on the belly.

Here`s the reason why: lying on the stomach is uncomfortable for many children, they immediately start struggling against it, or, if able to lie on the stomach, are so busy with the position that they don`t develop any farther from there.

Lying on the belly and successful development from this position requires a lot of basic information and organization of the body. While this also applies to lying on the back - which is not self-evident and easy for many children - the prone position adds extra difficulties of working against gravity (while lifting the head), and constriction (especially in the neck/shoulder area) that can add extra discomfort.

In order to lift the head easily, the muscles of the lower back must be accessible. Extensors and flexors must be balanced so that the front of the body becomes long and the chest area can "open". If these prerequisites are not met - or if the child is not able to move their head far back even without working against gravity in another situation, for example when lying on their side, my first thought in the prone position is not "lift your head", but "lie comfortably".

You do not have to lie on the stomach to develop the basic requirements for the prone position.

So today I would like to ask you what your child needs to lie on the stomach and develop from there into lifting the head and start with locomotion. Then pick the appropriate lesson from what you already know.

I see...

My child is lying on the belly quite often and kicking the legs, but it is not getting anywhere, and the knees tend to lift off the floor. Or it already started to crawl, but does so clumsily or doesn´t move the legs one after the other.

For a successful crawling movement, the spine would have to turn - this is the next step into locomotion. Looks for lessons about rotation, Week 3 Day 2 and 4. For some time this development - the "flying phase" - is quite natural.

My child is lying on the belly with both knees to the side. It can lift the head quite well but shows no signs of wanting to crawl.

See above and look for the turning/twisting abilities of the spine.

My child can lie (or even sleep) on the stomach, but it cannot hold the head for a long time, the eyes start to cross, or it doesn`t play in this position.

A child should not struggle too much to lift the head, instead, the head should be balanced. For this, the ribcage has to "open" in the front. Working with stretching and bending, breathing rhythmically (Week 2), or making sounds with a soft ribcage will support your child.

You could also use external support by lifting the shoulders, or putting a rolled blanket under the armpits to help the child into a more vertical position of the cervical spine (neck), then work with the eyes and orientation by moving a toy or even mobile phone into different directions.

My child dislikes lying on the belly and throws his/her head around a lot.

The relationship between neck and shoulders could be a possible cause. Go back to working with the shoulders, and help the child touch itself - stretching the arms gently away from the neck.

My child shows a movement pattern where it looks to the right side, and then lifts the left knee (or vice versa), or tries to lift the head and pelvic at the same time.

This often happens when the musculature of the back and front - flexors and extensors - are working against each other. They are quite tight and short. Lying on the belly is probably quite uncomfortable for your child. Go back to Week 1, stretching and bending, and don`t try to get the child to lift the head for too long.

My child just seems to be very uncomfortable and is crying immediately.

Swallowing and breathing might be an issue. Start with Week 1, Day 1, and 2, and don`t force your child into lying prone.

We`ve been working on this issue all along

You see: a lot of the lessons we already covered had a lot to do with lying on the belly. Anything with stretching and bending, Week 1, will support lifting the head, as well as softening the ribcage. The most important fact is being able to open the chest and getting the neck in a vertical position.

Remember

  • You do not have to lie on the belly to develop the skills to do it successfully.
  • it is important to feel well on the stomach. If we hate it, why roll there in the first place? And if we don`t cope well, and are busy just being in this position, where would we find the capacities to develop further from there?
  • Lying half on the stomach will give you about 80% of the benefits already.