The Easiest Way To Trigger Interoceptive Calming In Your Child


Interoception.  The eighth?? sense?  The key to calming?

If there was a way to produce therapist catnip, it has to be by mentioning “interoception”!    We are all buzzing about this.  But understanding how the ability to sense internal homeostasis (that is what interoception is) makes kids happier is harder to convey in practical, non-medical terms.  Even harder?  Telling non-therapists how to trigger interoceptive awareness in their children or students.

Here is a simple choice that works for so many kids:  prone.

PRONE is the medical term for “tummy time” or “tummy-down” positioning.  Therapists use it for many goals, including postural activation, head control, weight shifting, and more.  Because pressure on the mechanoreceptors in the viscera (aka belly organs) triggers interoceptive information to be sent directly to the brain’s insula , where a great deal of self-awareness and a sense of safety is processed, prone is very effective at calming.

This is why your granny wants you to put your baby to sleep in prone- unfortunately for grandma, we now know that this is a BAD IDEA for babies under 6 months!  Never place a baby that cannot clear their head to breathe on their belly to sleep!

But Grandma is right about something: prone positioning enhances calming, and calm babies can fall asleep.  She isn’t wrong about how well it can help little ones go to sleep and stay there.  She is just uninformed about the greater risks of SIDS for the smallest babies.

So think about using prone for more than motor development.  Use it when kids are out of gas, and not reading their body or their environment correctly.  Use it for short periods, but use it more often.  Make it the fun position for more play.


By Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist, licensed massage therapist, and certified CBT-i sleep coach in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment. It has been a joy to help people of all ages improve their ability to grow and thrive! Occupational therapists are focused on enhancing a client's functioning in everyday life. We are practical healthcare providers, interested in teaching, adapting actions and environments, and building a client's useful skills for living their best life, regardless of their challenges. I am the author of five books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training the Autistic Child". I lecture on many subjects, including sleep, trauma, and development. Contact me to learn more about how I can help you achieve YOUR goals!

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