Tummy time is the perfect complement to back to sleep.
If you practice “back to sleep” for your baby’s safety, you’ll want to practice “tummy time” for your baby’s overall health and development.
Back to Sleep
Positioning your baby on his or her back is the current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help reduce the chance of your baby having SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. This simple practice has reduced the incidence of SIDS significantly.
But when your baby is lying down on the back it is not possible for your baby to lift the head. In fact this position that provides total support does not allow movement that challenges the neck and upper back muscles. These are the muscles that will help with head control and body mechanics.
The AAP also recommends tummy time for your baby. The baby in the picture is a few weeks older than your newborn and is demonstrating tummy time very well. Notice the lifted head, the arm and hand positions, and the leg position.
The tummy position places your baby’s arms and legs next to a firm surface (such as a pallet on the floor), which provides resistance during natural movement. Your baby may be a flurry of activity, pushing, pulling, and lifting up with arms, legs, and head. All of these resistance activities will strengthen your baby’s muscles.
Placing your baby on the tummy for short periods of time when awake helps your baby to develop muscles necessary for both fine and gross motor skills. Development of these muscles will assist your baby with crawling, rolling over, and sitting up. Lifting the head will strengthen the neck and upper back muscles and will assist with head control. Head control plays an active role in helping your baby with eating, sleeping, and general body mechanics.
Always stay with your baby, and play with your baby, during tummy time. Whether your baby is on a pallet on the floor, across your lap, or leaning forward into your hand, you can help your baby practice tummy time skills. Interacting with your baby makes it fun for both of you.
For you and yours,
D. Fravert, RN