Guest post by Munira Adenwalla – a paediatric Occupational Therapist from New York now working in London.
Tummy time is essential for your baby to develop physically, mentally and socially during supervised times and while awake.
With babies spending more time on their backs, there has been a notable rise in Plagiocephaly (a flattening on the back of the head), Torticollis (head tilted to one side), and other motor delays. Also, with increased popularity of seats, swings, and carriers, babies have fewer chances to move freely.
Why is Tummy Time so important? Here are some of the benefits:
- Strengthens neck, shoulders, back, stomach, and buttocks as baby learns to lift and turn their head and push up on their hands. These are important precursors to rolling, pushing up to sitting, crawling, and later, walking, and running
- Develops eye-hand coordination as baby follows faces, plays with their hands and grasp objects. In the future, this will affect a child’s ability to play ball games, write and drive as an adult
- Shapes the arches in the hand as baby shifts their weight forward-backward, and side-to-side while reaching for and grasping toys. This will affect a child’s ability to grasp writing and feeding utensils, tie their shoelaces and make a sandwich
- Develops motivation, problem-solving, body and spatial awareness as baby figures out how to move their body and respond to their environment. Later on, this affects a child’s ability to learn new skills such as swimming, riding a bicycle, and doing school work
How to Help?
- Start early so tummy time is a normal process for your baby. Gradually build up time spent on tummy
- Time it right! Make sure your baby is not too hungry, sleepy, or too full
- Join your baby on the floor or have them lay tummy-down on your tummy
- Have fun! Sing, talk, make faces, play Peekaboo, blow Rasberries, or use mirrors and favourite toys for entertainment
- Incorporate tummy time into your routine. For example, give massages while lying on their tummy, roll onto tummy after every diaper or clothing change before picked up, put baby on their tummy when placed on the floor, or carry your baby on their tummy on your forearms
- Place a rolled towel or nursing pillow under their chest with arms placed in front. Once they can lift their head and bear weight on their forearms, remove the towel or pillow
- Do tummy time while gently rocking forward-backward and side-to-side on a balance ball while supporting your baby’s trunk
- Limit time spent in swings, car seats, standers, jumpers, carriers and bouncers
- Make sure your baby’s babysitter or nursery school provider recognizes the importance of tummy time while your baby is awake
Your baby should be assessed by an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist specializing in treating infants if they have:
- Floppy or stiff movements, or arch their back excessively
- A flat spot on their head or consistently tilts or turns head to one side
- Difficulty reaching their motor milestones despite having tummy time
- Moves one side of their body more than the other side
In summary, tummy time is a key developmental milestone for infants to establish strong foundational patterns of movement, problem-solving and learning. If you have concerns regarding your child’s development, it’s never too early to seek professional advice or intervention, especially for babies.
Enjoy tummy time!
For more information on Munira Adenwalla please visit:
www.ot4kids.co.uk | Mobile: 07540 113 126