In recent times, pediatricians have been stressing the importance of tummy time for a baby. New parents are being made aware of the importance of tummy time and why it is beneficial for their babies.
What is tummy time?
Tummy time is simply making your baby rest on their tummy. It gets your baby off his or her back and is immensely beneficial to developing their gross and fine motor skills.
Why is tummy time so important?
Most often these days a baby rests on his back. Before the Back to sleep campaign, babies spent much more time on their stomachs, and this position is very natural and important for babies. It provides the base for proper motor skill development, such as head control, rolling, and pulling up. However, for nearly twenty years now, pediatricians have been advocating that babies should sleep on their back. It was in 1994 that the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) recommended that sleeping on back is safest for babies. This recommendation has been implemented throughout the world and has resulted in drastic decrease in the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
But keeping the babies constantly on their back has its share of disadvantages. A baby’s skull is still soft and constantly resting on the back can make the head become flat. This leads to cranial asymmetry or misshapen head, also known as flat head syndrome. The only way to prevent this is to compensate by making the baby lie on his tummy. Studies have also shown that spending too much time on the back can cause developmental delays in infants.
Tummy time plays a critical role in infant development. Since babies have been sleeping on their backs, there has been a great increase in the number of infants who have mild delays in gross motor skills. You can keep this from happening to your precious little one by being diligent about practicing tummy time.
The risks of lying on the back for babies
Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly are two common problems that are found in infants today. Both these conditions can arise due to excessive resting on the back. With plagiocephaly, a baby’s head develops flat spots on one side of the back of the head. In brachycephaly the infant’s head becomes flat across the back, and becomes disproportionately wide. In this condition the head flattens uniformly leading to a wider head.
The back to sleep campaign has saved lives of millions of babies, and you should continue to follow the recommendations of the pediatricians and put your baby to sleep on its back as well. But researches have shown that it leads to certain problems in babies that need our attention in order to compensate for them.
Resting on the back has been associated with milestone delays in development. Babies who rest on their back have been found to reach early milestones late. In a study conducted in 2005 it has been found that over 4.6 million babies have learning disabilities. All the figures indicate that lying on the back all the time is not good for future development of infants.
Fortunately by introducing tummy time progressively and at the right time, you can avoid these conditions.