In the early nineties, experts changed the recommended practice of putting babies to sleep on their tummies to putting them down on their backs. This practice helps to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). However, as a result more babies are developing flat head and/or torticollis, or stiff neck. “Container baby syndrome” is also something that modern babies are experiencing. This is where they go from car seat to baby bouncer to swing, etc. This results in many babies beinge in a supine or angled back position for the majority of their day.
9 times out of 10 flat head is the result of not enough tummy time.
Tummy time not only helps combat flat head and torticollis but it also helps babies with motor development and to strengthen their head, neck, and back muscles.
The good news is that the shape of baby’s skull does not impact brain development!
Tummy time should be started as soon as possible. Although tummy time for your newborn is not going to look the same as for your infant. There are lots of ways to get an infant to do tummy time. We can place our infant on a play mat or use a nursing pillow to kind of prop them up. However, with a newborn it can be kinda tricky. The recommended amount of tummy time for your newborn is 30 minutes per day. So, this begs the question: how do we achieve that?
Tummy Time Helps for Newborns
Invariably it can be a scary, foreign experience for newborns to be laid face down on the floor.Here are some other gentler options for how to achieve tummy time with a newborn.
- Baby can lie on a parent’s chest with the parent in a somewhat semi-reclined position in order to facilitate tummy time for baby.
- Baby can be carried in a tummy/face down position. One common hold is the “football hold”. This position can be great for babies that suffer from acid re-flux as long as pressure is not placed on the belly.
- Baby can be made to lie tummy down across parent’s lap.
Tummy time can be started gradually and slowly increased. An easy way to incorporate tummy time is to make it a part of your everyday routine so that it becomes natural and less likely to be forgotten.
How much tummy time should we do?
Cumulative time goals for a 24 hour period are:
- Newborn: 30 minutes per day
- 2 month old: 1 hour per day
- 4 month old: 1.5 hours per day
Tummy time also helps babies learn how to roll over which leads to walking. It is also a great time to massage those back muscles and bond with your baby!
WebMd article: More explanation about what tummy time is and why it’s important as well as tips for if your baby just hates being on the floor!
Parentguidenews.com: Article written by a pediatric occupational therapist all about tummy time and a helpful list of activities to do with your baby to help promote shoulder, arm and hand strength.