A question that is asked far too often – “Is tummy time for babies really that important?!” …YES!!!
But why?! Tummy time is important to help develop the curves that are present in our spines, and helps strengthen the muscles in your baby’s neck – necessary for baby to be able to hold their head up! Tummy time is also important to prevent torticollis – the term that is used to describe “wry neck” or the painful muscle spasm that keeps us from being able to move our necks properly (yes this happens to babies too!). In addition, allowing baby to spend some time on their tummyalso helps to prevent a condition called plagiocephaly – this is the flattening of the back of the head due to too much time on the back. Tummy time is also very important for development of motor skills, allows increased vestibular input, and has respiratory and digestive benefits for your baby! It also helps with coordination, balance, and control – the foundations for all movement!
If you skip tummy time, they miss the chance to lift their heads against gravity, to use their arms to push up their body weight, and to have confidence in exploring their surroundings – all three important for the next step…crawling!
A study showed that since the start of the Back To Sleep campaign (a campaign designed to help prevent SIDS), 60% of babies have shown a delay in reaching important milestones, there has been an increase in children diagnosed with Spectrum Disorders, and there has been an increase in diagnoses of learning disabilities. Continue putting baby to sleep on their back, but allow them to have some time on their front as well!
It is important to begin putting your baby on their tummy from the day that they are born. Set aside some time that you can allow them to be on their front. Start with 3-5 minutes – maybe after a diaper change, bath, or getting dressed. You can work up to 15-minute periods done a few times per day. By 3 months old, your baby should be spending 30-60 minutes lying on their stomach.
When you first begin, they might fuss and you may think, “my baby doesn’t like it”, but they will grow out of that and learn to love lying on their tummy! Some ideas to help make tummy time more fun are to put toys in front of them so that they can reach for them, also putting toys to the sides so that they continue to move their heads and eyes. Another great idea is to put a mirror in front of them so that they can see themselves! Most importantly, don’t just set them down and walk away…interact with them 🙂
Tummy time does not have to be laying them on the floor. You can put them tummy-to-tummy while you are laying at an incline, put them on your lap with your front leg a little higher, or you can carry them in your arms with their tummy down. These are just a few – get creative!!
Your growing baby is growing every day and we know that you will do anything to help them reach their milestones! If you have any questions at all about what else you can do to help your growing baby, reach out to us at Active Family Chiropractic (303) 651-1810. We are always here for you and your family and would love to have you join the AFC family! Get your family checked today!
– Dr. Melissa Dalrymple, DC