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Baby tummy time

3 tips for your baby’s happy, healthy tummy


By Dr. Ted Jablonski, family physician

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Getting to know a new little one is quite an adventure and it takes time as well as trial and error to understand what makes your baby happy. So much of a new parent’s role is providing nutrition to their baby through frequent feedings. As baby’s developing digestive system is still sensitive, issues like gas pain, discomfort and constipation are common and can lead little ones to cry or fuss.

It’s important to ensure that the right conditions are created to support digestion and ensure baby is comfortable, happy and healthy. Here are three tips that could help contribute to baby’s happy, healthy tummy –  inside and outside:

Tummy time

Supervised floor play known as “tummy time” is recommended for helping to develop strong muscles, advance fine and gross motor skills and prevent cranial (skull) flattening.[i] It has also been suggested that tummy time can support normal, comfortable digestion for baby. While on their stomachs, babies get to stretch their abdominal muscles, which in turn can stimulate the bowel and help to pass gas.

It is recommended that you start by giving baby a couple of minutes of tummy time, two or three times a day, and gradually build this up. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends three to four tummy time sessions for 10 to 15 minutes each time.[ii] It should also be noted that, for safety reasons, babies always sleep on their backs.

Baby massage

A baby massage is essentially a gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby's body with your hands. Massaging baby’s abdomen can help relax your baby, promote sleep, and aid in digestion.[iii],[iv] Gently massaging your baby’s tummy, starting from the top and moving your fingers in a clockwise direction can help move any trapped gas bubbles through the digestive system and provide relief and reduce fussiness.

Breast milk

Breast milk provides the optimal balance of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins and more. It regulates baby’s digestive system and contains antibodies[v] and “good” bacteria that contribute to the development of a healthy gut flora and strong immune system. It is important to know that all infants and toddlers who receive breast milk should receive a daily supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D.

Helpful bacteria – called probiotics – are live, safe microorganisms that prevent invasion by pathogens, playing an important immune function and keeping baby healthy. Experts agree that breast milk is the best nutrition for baby,[vi] and breastfeeding is the best way to provide these probiotics. Probiotics can also be found in certain baby formulas, other foods, and natural health products.

A healthy gut is crucial to baby’s overall development and immunity. Speak with your doctor and always follow their advice at regular check-ups to ensure your child is on the right track.

This article has been sponsored by Nestlé Baby & me, but all comments and opinions are my own.

Dr. Ted Jablonski, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Dr. Ted Jablonski is a Calgary-based family physician. He completed his medical education at the University of Manitoba and has practiced and taught medicine in rural Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan, and Northwestern Ontario. In addition to his duties as a family physician and educator, Dr. Jablonski is a clinic associate at the Men’s Sexual Health Clinic at the Southern Alberta Institute of Urology and does consultant work in sexual and transgender medicine for Southern Alberta.

[iii] Field T. (2000) Infant Massage Therapy. Ch. 32, In: Zeanah C. (Ed) Handbook of Infant Mental Health. Second Edition. New York: The Guilford Press.

[iv] Bahrami HR, Kiani MA, Noras MR. Massage for Infantile Colic: Review and Literature. Int J Pediatr 2016; 4(6): 1953-58. Retrieved from: Accessed on April 19, 2018.

[v] Niers L, et al. Nutr Rev 2007;65:347–60.

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