Eastbourne Chiropractor Dr James Revell shares advice about tummy time and why it is so important for your child’s development.
In our Eastbourne chiropractic clinic, I see a lot of young babies with a flattening or deformation in the shape of the back of their head, which is otherwise known as positional head deformity (PHD) or positional plagiocephaly. One way to prevent the development of flattened spots on your baby’s head is through Tummy Time.
What is Tummy Time for Babies?
Tummy Time is where your baby spends some time during their waking hours playing on their tummy. It is important to interact with your baby and supervise them during the whole process.
Why is Tummy Time Important?
In 1992, The American Academy of Paediatrics began the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign which recommended that all healthy babies should sleep on their back. Since the start of this campaign, there has been a reduction in the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by over two thirds in England and Wales.
This reduction in SIDS is fantastic, however, as a result of babies more likely to spend the majority of their time lying on their backs, there has been an increasing number of babies with a flattening or deformation in their head shape. Recent statistics show that 1 in 3 of all babies will show some degree of positional head shape deformity.
There are many reasons why a baby might develop a head shape deformity with the most common of these resulting from a preferred head position and limited Tummy Time.
An infant’s skull is much softer than an adult’s and can change its shape if left to rest on a flat surface for a long period of time. Without a regular change is position, these head shape deformities can develop over time.
Tummy Time encourages the development of strength in the shoulders, neck and back muscles of your baby. This is necessary for certain developmental and motor milestones to be achieved (for example: holding up their head, sitting up and crawling). Tummy Time can also prevent delays in these milestones and reduce the risk of positional head shape deformity.
Tummy Time also allows your baby to take their weight on their own, move freely and explore their surroundings.
How Does Tummy Time Help?
Tummy Time helps with the following:
- Strengthens the muscles of the neck to improve head control
- Strengthens the muscles of the shoulder to aid motor development and crawling
- Prevents the development of a flat head
- Allows your baby to learn about movement
- Helps with tummy problems such as gas and constipation
- Allows freedom of movement as movement is restricted in a car seat or buggy
- Helps to develop eye coordination
How do I do Tummy Time?
For your new-born, place them across your lap on their tummy so they can get used to the position. After 4 weeks, you can begin to place them on a comfortable blanket across the floor. Place soft objects and toys on the front and move them in front of your baby to encourage them to move their head from side to side. This retains interest, encourages movement and develops eye coordination.
Remember to always supervise your baby during Tummy Time and lay your baby to sleep on their back.
When can My Baby Begin Tummy Time?
Tummy Time can be introduced to your baby immediately after your baby returns home from the hospital and as early as possible.
How Much Tummy Time Does My Baby Need?
The recommended amount of tummy Time per day your baby should perform are:
- 0-1 Months of age: 1-2 min, 2-3 times a day
- 1-2 Months of age: 5 mins, 2-3 times a day
- 2-3 Months of age: 10-15 mins, 2-3 times a day
- 3-4 Months of age: 20 min, 2-3 times a day
- 4-6 Months of age: 1-2 hours a day in total
- 6-8 Months of age: majority of awake hours
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