I think the campaign called “Back to Sleep” is good, but people often forget the second part of that…”Tummy to Play”. While keeping baby safe while sleeping is important I think that many parents are not aware of the importance of tummy time for their babies.
My babies have all had nicely shaped heads with no flat spots due to the fact that they get plenty of tummy time as well as lots of time being held. I have read that the incidence of babies having positional plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome” has increased since babies spend so much time on their backs while sleeping and in other devices such as car seats.
Tummy time doesn’t require any special tools. Simply lay your baby on a blanket on the floor when he or she is awake. Talk to your baby and get down on your tummy facing your baby. Provide a few interesting toys or even a baby safe mirror to enhance tummy time. Do not leave your baby unattended.
Here are some of the benefits of tummy time.
- Helps with fine and gross motor skill development.
- Head and neck control are improved.
- Back and shoulder muscles become stronger.
- Baby may reach important milestones such as rolling over, sitting, and crawling earlier.
- Flat spots on baby’s head can be prevented.
- Some developmental delays may be avoided.
Even with all of the benefits some parents will say, “My baby doesn’t like being on his or her tummy and cries every time.” Therefore, they will not give their baby ample tummy time.
Here are a few things to try if your baby doesn’t seem to like tummy time.
- Lay baby across your lap while you are sitting.
- Have baby lay on your chest.
- Place a nursing pillow under your baby (see picture above), especially if he or she suffers from reflux.
- Keep trying. Even if your baby fusses after only a few minutes on his or her tummy try again later.
Eventually your baby will love being on the floor for tummy time.