Motor skills for babies: more tummy time, please
While babies should sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death (SID), it is equally important that babies should spend time on their tummy when they are awake, according to the latest recommendation by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Babies who don’t get enough “tummy time” can have delays in their motor development.
APTA spokesperson Judy Towne Jennings recommends that babies be placed in different positions when they are awake. Keeping babies in one position for prolonged periods of time such as in car seats or strollers, however, is strongly discouraged.
So when does tummy time start? Right from the start, as soon as mom and baby come home from the hospital. “Ideally, babies should be placed on their tummies after every nap, diaper change and feeding, starting with 1-2 minutes”, according to Jennings.
So why is tummy time so important? It promotes the development of neck and shoulder muscles, prevents tight neck muscles and misshapen skulls, as well as develops muscles necessary for the rolling, sitting, and crawling.
Lack of tummy time on the other hand, can lead to delays in developmental, cognitive, and organizational skills, problems in eye tracking and behavioral issues. Based on an APTA survey, a large number of physiotherapists have observed an increase in these types of delays in recent years and lack of tummy time seems to be the problem.
While the benefits of sleeping on the back are common knowledge, there is a lack of knowledge among parents as to the need for “tummy time.” For more information about tummy time for your baby, check out APTA’s Tummy Time Tools, a brochure that provides parents and caregivers ideas and activities for tummy time throughout the day.