One of the things that we are sure every parent of a new-born baby hears from several sources repeatedly is encourage tummy time, encourage tummy time, encourage tummy time! That is great, but not everyone really understands the reasons tummy time is so important. Without a doubt, tummy time is crucial and essential to a baby’s motor and postural development, as well as development of sensory processing skills.
Benefits of Tummy Time:
- Provides a break from the baby’s typical supine positioning which occurs while sleeping and laying in carriers.
- Prevents development of acquired Torticollis (abnormal or asymmetrical neck positioning due to tightness in unilateral neck muscles)
- Increases head and neck control against gravity
- Increases back strength
- Increases arm and shoulder strength and stability
- Facilitates understanding of movement (vestibular processing) as the baby experiences and learns movement of the head and body against gravity.
For motor development, establishing postural control of the head, neck, and back establishes the foundation for development of later motor milestones. This includes rolling over, crawling, pulling to stand, and walking. Motor delays can often occur if a baby does not receive sufficient amount of tummy time throughout his/her daily routine. As far as sensory processing is concerned, tummy time provides opportunities to develop vestibular processing, which is essential for the development of protective responses, body awareness, postural stability, balance, and self-soothing skills needed throughout life.
Recommendations for Tummy Time:
- Initiate when your baby is awake/alert
- Never leave your baby unattended during tummy time
- Implement tummy time 2 to 3 times per day throughout your daily routine.
- Encourage tummy time position for several minutes, increase duration of time as your baby begins to tolerate and enjoy it
- Utilize talking, animated facial expressions, singing, and playing with toys to encourage longer tummy time sessions
- Trial different semi-inclined positions to introduce tummy positioning. This includes:
- Positioning your baby’s tummy on your chest, belly, lap, or on your thighs with your knees bent. Start with your body in an upright seated position and slowly lower to laying on your back on a flat surface.
- Placing a towel roll or small playmat cushion under your baby’s chest
Difficulties with initiation of tummy time may contributed by digestive issues, colic, limited, strength, and/or poor postural control. DO NOT AVOID TUMMY TIME! If your baby consistently cries and avoids tummy time, we recommend scheduling an evaluation session with My Kids Therapy for consultation with one of our highly trained occupational therapists. Contact us at (410) 451-5700 or visit our website www.mykidstherapymd.com