BACK TO SLEEP – FRONT TO PLAY
We all know that babies should be put to sleep on their backs during the first year of their lives, (the ‘Back to Sleep Campaign’ has seen the death rate from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome drop by 50% since its launch in 1994), but did you also know that it is very important for your baby to have lots of time on their tummies too?
Tummy time is a very important stage in development and helps baby to learn to push up, roll, sit up, crawl, and pull to stand which all leads to good spinal posture and good right and left body and brain coordination.
Tummy time is also important to reduce the risk of your baby’s head developing a flat spot (known as Flat Head Syndrome or Positional Plagiocephaly). Long times spent lying on their backs against hard surfaces e.g. under play gyms, or in hard car seats can encourage their soft heads to develop a flattened area. When your baby is very young, while they are awake it is always best to minimise the time spent like this and when they have to be in these positions try to alternate which way they turn their head. If they have developed a slight flattening try to encourage them to lie off this side by turning their head to the opposite side. (Not so easy when they gain good head control!). Please speak to me for further advice if you wish.
Supervised tummy time is safe no matter how young baby is. You can start from birth with baby on your tummy and increase the time a little each day. It may be that baby is not too keen in the beginning so start with short spells when they are happy and they don’t have a full stomach!
Try these ideas:
Lie them on your chest while you watch TV/read
Lie them over your knees with something for them to look at on the floor
Undress them on their tummy
Try massaging them on their tummy
Lying back with your knees bent up lie them on your knees
Lie with them on the floor facing them and get siblings to help
Provide entertainment, there are some good tummy time mats/toys out there now but otherwise use a board book propped up, toys, mirrors etc.
Take baby’s socks off to help them get traction on the mat
If they can’t get up on to forearms you can use a rolled-up towel or pillow for support under their chest.
REMEMBER TUMMY TIME SHOULD ALWAYS BE SUPERVISED AND LITTLE AND OFTEN WORKS BEST. YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO PUT BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK.
Any concerns please feel free to contact me.