It’s tummy time!

Consumer Reports News: February 02, 2009 05:35 PM

As long as your baby is still in a crib, we don’t recommend using a comforter or blanket there. But that doesn’t mean you need to ditch the baby blanket altogether. It can come in quite handy as a play mat or exercise pad for tummy time under your watchful supervision.

Tummy time—the time your baby spends on the floor during the day doing “push-ups” and turning his head—promotes neck and shoulder development and builds the muscles your baby needs to roll, sit, and crawl.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), many babies aren’t spending enough time on their stomachs. A lack of tummy time, and the resulting developmental delays, can affect a child’s ability to learn basic skills such as chewing, grasping, crawling, standing, and walking.

The APTA cites a recent survey of 400 physical and occupational therapists, two-thirds of whom had seen an increase in early motor delays among infants under six months in the past several years. An early motor delay happens when a child isn’t able to meet important physical milestones in the first months and years of life.

More than 80 percent of the therapists listed a lack of tummy time as the number one reason for this increase. By spending time on their stomach—ideally, as soon as they come home from the hospital and for at least one to two minutes after every nap, diaper change, and feeding, working up to a total of an hour a day—babies can typically develop normal muscle strength and coordination.

Tummy time also helps prevent tight neck muscles and the development of flat areas on the back of the head. When babies don’t get enough tummy time, they may need therapy to catch up. Tummy time can also be an important part of play. For more information, check out the APTA's brochure, Tummy Time Tools, or visit www.apta.org.

See our health blog post on infant seats and tummy time, and our baby blog post on the power of play, for more information.


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