Tummy time you can trust
Glasgow born, Geraldine Abrahams, created her product after discovering parents were abandoning tummy time techniques with their babies.
by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 16th February 2012
As a mother of five, Geraldine enjoyed tummy time with all of her children and was amazed to find that parents have been put off introducing tummy time to their babies following a cot death campaign in the 1990’s. The popular campaign, ‘Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play’ was brought out to promote the importance of sleeping on the back to prevent cot death. The ‘tummy to play’ part of the campaign seemed outweighed by the cot death warnings and parents stopped placing their little ones on their front when playing.
Inventor and entrepreneur Geraldine remembers the campaign well. She says, “The problem with tummy time is that parents don’t like to see their babies face down on the floor. This ‘face down’ thing has created a huge psychological problem for parents after the cot death campaign. It is a great campaign and has saved a lot of lives but unfortunately for parents, it’s caused this anxiety.”
Simple mats with pillows at the end have been on the market for over 10 years following the campaign but essentially, babies are still lying face down on the floor. After conducting research, Geraldine found that 48% of children go to school with delayed motor responses and development skills which is directly related to not practising tummy time.
Baby tummy time is not only important for physical, emotional, social, sensory and motor development, but is important in helping prevent flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly). Flat head syndrome is a cosmetic condition which can be prevented with the regular practice of tummy time.
Geraldine saw there was a problem developing and knew she had a very simple solution, Tummy With Mummy. After 10 prototypes, market research and rigorous testing, Geraldine brought her product to the market.
Baby tummy time solution
Tummy With Mummy is the world’s only foldaway, off the floor tummy time solution. It’s multifunctional including a recliner, seat, platform and clever flat pack design to encourage tummy time. Geraldine knew that one of the main things deterring mums and dads from engaging in tummy time is lying their baby face down on the carpet. Tummy With Mummy lifts the baby up off the floor and supports their diaphragm, which is also good for reflux. The elevated positioning of baby means parent and child can have essential eye contact and bonding opportunities.
Before launching Tummy With Mummy, Geraldine was a journalist specialising in business, education and health topics. It was whilst she was writing reports on child health and development that she began to really understand the impact not practicing tummy time was having on children. She says, “I discovered that the NHS in Scotland gives every parent a leaflet on the importance of tummy time. I carried out a survey of my own and found that 90% of parents of whom I was talking to had never seen the leaflet, and if they had seen the leaflet, they’d just tossed it away without looking at it properly. That same percentage didn’t practice tummy time at all. I realised that it was a big awareness programme that was needed here.”
After spending her career interviewing various inventors and entrepreneurs, the career change from journalism to business was a fairly natural transition. Geraldine remembers, “My family all thought Tummy With Mummy was a terrific idea. I think at first because I’d never been in business before they thought, well why do you want to go and invent a product and take it to the market. I’d actually done a postgraduate in marketing so I’d got a taste for business in theory and took a lot of inspiration from interviewing entrepreneurs. My family knew that. From a mother’s perspective, it was always something I practised and I knew the value of tummy time. I knew there was a very obvious issue and that I had, what I considered, to be the perfect solution.”
A rollercoaster of a journey
The journey from initial idea to the finalised product has been trying and hard work but well worth the effort according to Geraldine. She says, “In terms of the actual journey, it’s been fantastically exciting. Every day is a rollercoaster, the day starts one way and ends a completely different way. Put that onto a mass scale and I would say that I’ve been hurtling up and down that rollercoaster for the past few years not seeing where the end is, but seeing it in the distance. I would say that it’s terrifying but it’s also exhilarating.”
As inventor and founder of Tummy With Mummy, the greatest business achievement Geraldine has had to date is seeing that the product actually does work. Through her testing stages, she’s seen babies as young as three weeks old lifting their upper bodies and heads up to communicate with their parents. Seeing babies on the Tummy With Mummy product and watching them immediately respond and enjoy tummy time is the most rewarding part of being a business owner says Geraldine.
For other parents thinking of launching a business, Geraldine believes there are no boundaries when it comes to launching a business. She explains, “The first thing I would say is, do it, but do it with good planning. You can do it at 17 or you could do it at 70, there really are no barriers when it comes to starting a business. It’s a really positive thing to do to set up a business, it’s hard but it’s good to have a challenge in life. People always said to me, ‘If it was easy, everyone would do it’ and that’s a really sensible statement because it’s not easy, it’s very hard. Remember, you can always bounce back from mistakes, there’s nothing that’s ever so difficult that you can’t bounce back from it.”
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Photo: © D.C. Thomson&Co Ltd