There is more awareness of the importance of Tummy Time for babies and the developmental benefits it brings. Before the Back to Sleep campaign in the early 90s (to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS) babies were naturally placed on their tummies to sleep and therefore had ample Tummy Time. They became accustomed to this position from birth and had the opportunity to learn to lift their head and prop on their arms whilst on their tummy.
When you place your baby on their tummy you are enabling them to practice and achieve important developmental mile stones. Tummy time helps motor development by strengthening their back muscles and allowing them to gain head and trunk control. It also helps develop perception, body awareness and sensory motor skills as well as a whole array of Sensory Integration systems that include vision, tactile and proprioception (sense of body position in space).
The focus in most literature, however, is on the importance to the motor development and the prevention of motor delay. Motor control develops in a cephalocaudal fashion. This means that a baby will gain head control first and then shoulder control, then the abdomen, and so on down to their feet. If babies don’t get the strengthening of the back and neck muscles that they need, it can lead to or exacerbate an early motor delay.
Tummy Time can and should be started with a healthy new born baby. This will make it easier for the baby to accept and get used to being placed in this position. After 3 weeks of age the baby will start to recognise faces and sounds and this makes Tummy Time much easier as the length on her tummy can be extended with fun objects and faces to look at. The aim is to get around an hour total within a day by the end of three months.
At the beginning of 4 months the baby should be pushing up on its forearms and lifting and holding its head up. Cause for concern is when the baby has some difficulty lifting its head, has stiff legs with little or no movement, pushes back with its head or turns its head to one side only.
For more information on Tummy Time and overcoming difficulties with Tummy Time visit my blog on the link below.
There are some very good informative video clips on tummy time and its importance at the following link: www.pathwaysawareness.org/tummytime