We have come so far in regards to safety when it comes to infants. They are in car seats, go to sleep on their back and even spend time in a safe infant swing. While these measures are necessary for their safety it can also cause babies to spend a lot of time on their back with their head laying flat. So given the amount of time infants are placed on their back it is important to counteract that with much needed time on their tummy.
This time on their tummy is essential for the following reasons:
- It stretches and strengthens the head, neck, shoulder and back muscles they will need to learn important motor skills (how to push up, rollover, sit up, crawl and pull to stand).
- It develops their sensory-perceptual, social emotional, problem solving, and balance, visual and hearing abilities. They visually track items from a different point of view and eventually attempt to grab toys just outside their reach.
- It helps to develop normally shaped heads and decrease the flat spot on the back of their head that can develop after being placed on their backs most of the time.
Infants can get fussy when placed on their tummy because they are not used to it and it is difficult to hold up their head. Placing infants on their tummy during the day to play is important to do early and often. Some infants will tolerate it better than others but do not give up. If your infant fusses during tummy time offer it for a few minutes several times a day. Tummy time should always be done when the infant is supervised.
Some ways to offer tummy time are:
- Lay the infant over your leg while you’re sitting on the floor.
- Put the infant on a blanket on the floor and lay opposite them to engage them.
- Lay the infant on your chest with tummy side down.
- Place a bobby pillow under your infant’s armpit with her arms over the pillow.
It is important to place infants in their crib on their backs and adhere to safety standards. Remember to take time to place your child on their tummy as part of their everyday play. It will help them develop and offer a fun way to engage with your infant.