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The Importance of Tummy Time

Tummy TimeWhat Exactly is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is supervised time when your child is lying on a firm flat surface on their tummy, or when your child is in a position where they are face down and have to lift up their head against gravity. NB – since the 1994 ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, most child care specialists recommend that babies sleep on their backs.

How Old Should My Child Be Before I Begin Tummy Time?
You can introduce tummy time at any time, as long as there are no medical complications that would have your pediatrician recommend avoiding tummy time. Colic and reflux can make tummy time uncomfortable.

How Does Tummy Time Help My Child Develop?
Tummy time plays an important roll in the development of your child’s visual system. It also builds the muscles in your child that are necessary for advanced movements like crawling, walking and running. Over the last 20 years it is claimed that the average age of walking has gone from 9-12 months to 12-15 months. This change is believed to be due to back-sleeping as well as the over-use of bouncer seats, car seats etc, and the overall lack of good old-fashioned floor-time.

Movement develops our brain, not the otherway round. The progressive movements that infants make when they spend time on their tummies (from the random first moves, to more organised arm and leg moves then lifting themselves off the floor and rocking) are very important for strengthening our neural network.

What Can Happen If I Don't Give My Child Tummy Time?
They may be slow in reaching independent sitting, crawling and walking milestones, and there’s the possibility that they may later encounter problems at school with learning and behaviour.

My Child Does Not Seem to Like Tummy Time - What Can I Do?

  • Get down there with your child for a while. Babies can get frustrated because they have less ability to interact with the world when they are lying on their tummies.
  • Try a ‘tummy time alternative’, like carrying your child face down in a ‘superman’ position
  • Persevere! As your child gets stronger (and more able to lift their head and play with toys in this position) they begin to enjoy tummy time more and more.

If your child really does not like tummy time this might be one of the first ‘red flags’ that can help you as their Mum recognise that they are not developing as they should. Not every child who dislikes tummy time develops problems further along the line, but many children with developmental delays did not enjoy tummy time. Don’t panic, but familiarise yourself with, and keep an eye on other developmental milestones like rolling, rocking, creeping etc.

Courtesy of Jeanine Sandall (s m a R T k i d s) - Certified ILT Practitioner