In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised that all babies should be put to sleep on their backs. Because of this, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has decreased over 50%. While this is saving lives, parents should still be aware that having their child spend too much time on his or her back could have negative consequences.
Although there has been a significant decrease in SIDS, there has been an alarming increase positional plagiocephaly, a deformation of the child’s head where they develop flat spots on the back of their skulls. Before 1992, the rate of misshapen heads in infants was only about 5%. Recently, however, there have been reports of around a 600% increase!
Aside from a flattened skull, another big concern was shown in a survey conducted by Pathways Awareness, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Neuro-Development Treatment Association. They surveyed 400 pediatric physical and occupational therapists, two-thirds of which say that in the past 6 years, they’ve noticed an increase in early motor delays in infants. Those therapists claim that the number one contributor to these delays is the lack of “tummy time”. This also can cause developmental, cognitive, and organizational skills delays, eye tracking problems, behavioral issues, and more.
Flip that baby over! Tummy time is the time a baby spends on his or her belly, aka in prone position. This should be while the baby is awake and supervised to prevent any possible SIDS. There are numerous benefits for placing your baby on his or her belly. It strengthens neck, shoulders, upper back, and core muscles because babies will want to pick their heads up to see what’s going on. Being able to move their head reduces the risk of SIDS since they’d be able to move away from anything smothering them. Tummy time helps with the flat areas on the back of the babies’ head to develop more round and helps to build the muscles babies need to roll, sit, and crawl.
You can introduce tummy time to your baby as soon as you bring him or her home from the hospital, but definitely by the time he or she is a month old. Need some tummy time ideas? Here are some helpful tips to make the most of tummy time with your baby: