Why the fuss about tummy time?

The push to have our babies sleep on their backs is the result of the Back to Sleep campaign that was instituted in 1994 as a measure to reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to Porter (Porter 2017:61-63) the facts are though, that the decline of SIDS was already under way for several years before the launching of this campaign.  It may also be contributed to the simultaneous recommendation to remove all stuffed toys and puffy bedding and shifting diagnostic criteria with better ante-natal care. Occupational and physical therapists who work with babies are now keenly aware that this campaign has also led to less belly time in infancy. All these factors together be at the root of many problems such as flat heads, motor development delays, unintegrated reflexes and various other learning problems. Babies now roll over, sit up and crawl later than they did just 20 years ago. Therefore, it is of the most importance to give your baby as much tummy time as possible, right from birth, while keeping a watchful eye on baby. “Our job is very clear-to provide ample motor opportunity for the baby..the more he uses his abilities the easier it will be to move, to make sounds and to use his hands” (Doman 2005:66-72). Pushing against the ground will fire a multitude of sensory and motor neurons, mapping connections between body and brain, while also building the solid, powerful core that will secure and uphold the body’s structural integrity.

De Jager, M., 2012, Baby Gym: brain and body gym for babies, Metz Press, South Africa.

Doman, G., Doman, J., 2005, How smart is your baby? Develop and nurture your newborn’s full potential, Square One Publishers, New York.

Porter, K., 2017, Healthy posture for babies and children: tools for helping children to sit, stand and walk naturally, Healing Arts Press, Toronto, Canada.

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