THE IMPORTANCE OF TUMMY TIME FOR YOUR DEVELOPING BABY
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics instituted the Back to Sleep program, many moms, both new and veteran, are not realizing the importance of tummy time for their developing infant. “Tummy time” is defined as the time during the day in which your baby lies on his stomach during wake hours. Why is position so important? Tummy time or prone lying helps to strengthen your child’s head, neck and upper body muscles. It also encourages your little one to look around working his eye muscles and helps to round out his skull shape. We are seeing an increase of babies with a flattened head commonly known as plagiocephaly. This flattening may be due to a baby’s extended time lying on his/her back.
How to Get Started?
Begin by placing your baby on a clean blanket on top of a carpeted area. For very young infants, always supervise and be sure your baby’s airway is clear. Place appropriate infant toys around in a small arc formation around in front of the baby as this will encourage them to look to the right and left sides working their eye muscles.
Begin for brief periods of time, 3-5 minutes two to three times a day. Slowly begin to increase time to 40 minutes as your baby gets stronger. Very young infants may need some assistance. Take a receiving blanket and roll it up placing it under your baby at nipple level. Take his arms and bring them over the bolster/blanket. The roll should be small and thin.
What is my role?
This is the ideal time to play and interact with your baby! With the toys in a small arc formation, begin to pick them up and shake them to make noise and encourage your baby to follow the toy with their eyes from side to side. Also, raise the toy up to encourage your baby to lift their head.
Plastic Mirrors: Babies love to see themselves so place a plastic mirror in front of them and watch them smile!
Musical Toys: Babies love to check out brightly colored toys especially if they sing or are musical.
Siblings: Older siblings love to help out and this is one safe activity that you can involve them in. Have them lie on their belly as well, facing your infant at eye level. Encourage them to talk or sing to their sibling.