Saturday, 15 February 2014

Tummy Time

What is it? Why do you do it? When do you do it?

What is it?
Tummy time is time that your baby spends lying on their front when awake, alert and being supervised.
Babies used to spend a lot of time on their tummy’s as that was how they slept and so when they woke up they would spend some awake alert time on their front.
In 1992 the ‘Back to Sleep’ programme was introduced in an effort to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs), this programme has had great effect and the incidence of SIDs cases has been reduced by 50% since it began. Parents are consistently recommended to position their babies on their backs to sleep, because an emphasis (and quite rightly so) has been put on positioning babies on their backs there has been a reduction in the amount of time that babies are positioned on their front.

baby enjoying tummy time

Why do you do it?
Tummy time is great – it helps your baby develop physically and mentally. It can reduce incidence of positional head shape deformity and it completely changes your baby’s view of the world.
Research has shown that babies who spend time on their front when awake and supervised reach motor milestones earlier than babies who don’t spend any time on their front – they may roll over earlier – they are certainly likely to push themselves up with their arms earlier – why is this? – when a baby lies on his back he can see the world going on around him and he can lie there contentedly watching his family, this baby does not need to make any effort to receive stimulation as the world comes to him.

Now you have a baby who can see his blanket – yes, it is beautiful and his granny spent some time making it – but it doesn’t do that much and he quickly feels the need for more information – now he needs to move his head from side to side, lift up his head and shoulders and maybe even push with his arms or hands to get a better look at what is going on around him – all of these movements strengthen the shoulders, neck and arms. Crawling becomes easier because they already feel comfortable in the start position. They learn hand eye co-ordination trying to pick up those toys that are placed in front of them on the floor – they learn to reach out because when you are on your tummy you can retrieve that toy you just let go of because you can still see it.

When do you do it?
Tummy time can start from as early as day 1 – it is safe for your baby to be on their tummy as long as they are awake, alert and being supervised by you – it is not recommended to leave your baby on their tummy whilst unsupervised. The best way to start with tummy time is to do it at least once a day to your babies tolerance – initially this may only be a few seconds but as they become accustomed to the position and realise that they can move themselves they will start to stay on their tummy for longer periods. Don’t be disheartened if your baby appears to dislike tummy time – they just need an opportunity to adapt so keep trying.

When research was done to look at the differences between babies who spent time on their tummy and babies who didn’t tummy time was shown to be valuable if done every day for a period of more than 20 minutes.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

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