The Benefits of Tummy Time
Tummy time is when you let your baby spend time laying on his stomach. Since babies sleep on their backs, it’s important to make tummy time a part of regular play. Some babies aren’t used to the face-down position and protest tummy time. It’s best to start tummy time at birth (by letting baby lay on your chest) so get them used to the experience. Here are the benefits of tummy time.
- It builds muscle.
Tummy time strengthens your baby’s neck, back, and core muscles. They are naturally inclined to lift their neck and push themselves up to explore the world. These muscle groups won’t get much exercise if baby spends all of his time on his back. These muscles need to be developed first before baby can ever hope to sit up and crawl.
Strong core and arm muscles are also a helpful way to prevent SIDS: babies who can reposition themselves are less likely to fall victim to suffocation.
- Tummy time helps you avoid “flathead syndrome.”
Flathead syndrome occurs when a flat spot forms on the back of your child’s head. The skull is still soft and malleable at this age. Although the head appears misshapen, fortunately brain development is unaffected. Knowing what we do about SIDS (and how important it is for babies to sleep on their backs), flathead syndrome is becoming more common. You can help avoid this by taking a few minutes each day and having your child lie tummy-down on a floor pillow or other surface.
- It helps visual development.
When babies lay on their back in a lounger or their parents’ arms, they aren’t forced to position themselves to see things. This delays their ability to track movements and focus on objects of different distances. When baby is tummy-down, he must be more active to see the world.
- Tummy time reduces the changes of torticollis.
Torticollis is a condition when the muscles in the neck (like rotating muscles) aren’t used often. The muscles tighten and restrict head rotation. Tummy time gives baby an opportunity to stretch and relax these muscles.
- It enables cognitive development.
We learn by observing and experimenting. When baby’s perspective is limited to only the things he sees in front of him, he’s unable to investigate the world to the fullest extent. When you give him an opportunity to experiment at his leisure, his brain development will enhance.
Remember to always supervise your baby during tummy time. Use it as an opportunity to play so your baby doesn’t focus on the discomfort of the experience.