Borchardt Consulting

Tummy Time for Baby

Posted on: August 22, 2012

Tummy Time is important for baby because the amount of time baby spends on their tummy is reduced by back sleeping and car seat usage.  The average baby now misses out on several hours of natural tummy time every day.  The lack of tummy time can result in serious consequences for baby’s development.  Flat head (Plagiocephaly), Wry neck (torticollis) as well as social, emotional and developmental delays can all be linked to a lack of tummy time.  However, all these issues can be avoided by parents and caregivers by giving baby an appropriate amount of snuggle time (carried) and tummy time every day starting from birth.

The key to effective tummy time is consistency.  Every day when baby is awake, alert and supervised, the caregiver can place baby on his or her tummy for small amounts of time.  A newborn baby is recommended to be placed on his or her tummy around 5 times a day for no more than 3 minutes each time.  As baby grows and gains strength and skill, that time should increase until by three months of age, baby is spending an hour a day of awake time on their tummy.

There are several simple ways to integrate tummy time into baby’s day without adding an additional or time consuming routine.

  1. You can place baby on their tummy on your lap for burping.
  2. Place baby on your tummy while lying down so that he or she can look you directly in the eye.
  3. Get down on the floor and put your face at baby’s level.  Place interesting toys all around baby so that she reaches in different directions.

When the baby is on his or her back, it is easy to develop a flat spot on the head because the skull is so soft.  A bald spot on baby’s head is the clearest early warning sign that baby is spending too much time in a certain position.  Altering the position that baby holds their head while on their back will help prevent both flat head syndrome and wry neck; a condition where the neck muscles on one side of the neck shortens and the opposite side lengthens.  The key is to recognize that baby prefers to turn his or her head to look at the parent or the door (where the parent comes in).  Here are a few simple tips:

  1. When diapering, alternate the baby’s head direction for each diaper change.  Then, flip baby over onto their tummy for a moment.
  2. When bottle feeding baby, alternate the arm in which baby is held just like a breastfeeding mother would.
  3. Put baby to in a safe crib on her back for every sleep time, but alternate the orientation of her head between the head of the crib and the foot of the crib.

Perhaps the most important thing that parents and caregivers can do to positively affect baby’s social, emotional and developmental progress is to carry the baby in arms rather than in a car seat.  When baby is held, he or she is getting lots of sensory input, eye contact and bonding in addition to lots of muscle usage.  As a newborn, keep baby’s head, neck and back well supported; but as baby gains skills and develops, you can begin to use a less supporting position.

For more information on tummy time, go to www.pathways.org or schedule a Tummy Time workshop from Borchardt Consulting.  If there are concerns about baby’s development, consult your pediatrician.

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