Why it’s important

Proper positioning improves the baby’s ability to see and move and reach developmental milestones.

A healthy baby born at the end of a full-term pregnancy goes home fairly quickly.

At home, he will be held, cuddled, and carried around from one room to the next, always changing positions. He might be lying in the mother’s or father’s arms, on their chest, in his crib, or in a baby seat on a stroller or in a car.

The frequent changes in position and modes of transportation are important sources of stimulation. In addition, as the baby gets moved around, the muscles are gently flexed and stretched; muscles get tired when always held in the same position.

declat2Life for the preterm baby, on the other hand, or the baby with health issues, is quite different. In the first few weeks or months, while in hospital, health may depend on tubes to breathe, tubes to feed, tubes tied to monitors, intravenous lines. Life in an incubator limits the time being held, being cuddled, being gently rocked to sleep. A lot of time is spent in the same position, resulting in stiff muscles.

The health care team at the hospital will help you position the baby while in the NICU. This module will further expand on how to position the baby properly.

How long you have to do this depends on gestational age and the circumstances surrounding the birth and is impossible to predict accurately. This is why it’s important for all preemies to be positioned correctly from the start, the very first day following birth.

At home, you can continue using these strategies until the baby adopts proper positioning on his own. The health care team will guide you throughout.

Research and Development
Catherine Roussy-Dulude, Master’s student, Occupational Therapy
Julie Gosselin, Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Montreal
Thuy Mai Luu, Pediatrician, CHU Sainte-Justine

Claudine Amiel-Tison, Pediatrician, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Cochin Port-Royal, France
Christine Montmigny, Édith Théberge, Catherine Matte, Suzanne Bois, Physiotherapists, CHU Sainte-Justine

English Translation and Critical Revision
Danielle Buch, Medical Writer, Applied Clinical Research Unit, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

Last Updated: 2015

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