So, a while ago, someone sciencey worked out that putting babies to sleep on their backs considerably reduced the risk of cot death. Great! But as a result of being on their backs so much, babies missed out on developing their little muscles and tended to develop flat patches on their heads. Clearly this made finding hats to fit a nightmare, and reduced the amount you could ask a baby to carry, and so: tummy time was born.
Fucking tummy time.
Books, websites, midwives, everyone will tell you how vital tummy time is. What to Expect: The First Year (WTETFY) says something like: ‘Tummy time is essential for your baby’s development. Think of it as her first workout! If you skip it, your baby will get a big old Spongebob Squarepants head which she won’t be able to hold up anyway because her shoulder muscles will be so weak she’ll be slumped over like a 15th century sailor with rickets. Also, she will die’.
The problem, is that nobody told babies how important tummy time is. Babies actually don’t understand tummy time at all, and the one thing they know about it is that it’s seriously fucking awful. Literally the worst thing that has ever happened to them. They’re pretty keen to share their feelings on the subject with you, and obviously the best way to do this is to scream uncontrollably the entire time. Preferably until they vomit, lift their head up to scream even louder about the vomit, faceplant gracelessly back into it and draw on previously untapped reserves in order to scream louder still.
WTETFY actually has a section on ‘what if your baby doesn’t like tummy time’, but it basically just says ‘do it anyway, or your baby will explode and everyone will think you’re the worst parent ever. Worse than David Cameron that time he left his kid in a pub‘.
So, every day we do tummy time. M is almost four months now, and we’ve just reached the stage where she will lie peacefully and do things like lift her head and wiggle her arms for up to five minutes before dissolving into the kind of hysteria normally displayed exclusively by people who have just received awful news. Like the fact they have to make their baby do tummy time.
It has got a little better with time, and I’m hoping this will continue. I guess it has to, because otherwise, Martha will one day be a flat-headed 20-year-old incapable of doing yoga or getting an even tan. And nobody wants that.