By: Sheryl K. Goncalves, DPT, PT
Achieve Beyond-EI Clinical Director
Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time! Parents hear it and are aware of it but only some practice it with their little ones. There is no magic number of times to practice tummy time throughout the day but the more the better. For example, incorporating time throughout your daily routines such as after every diaper change.
Parents are unaware that they are practicing tummy time since the moment they first lay eyes on their little one and the labor and delivery nurse places their little one in their arms for skin-to-skin contact. Tummy time is essential since day one up through the time head control with good range of motion to look around while on their tummy is observed and when they have started to roll to and from back and tummy. During this time, a baby pretty much only needs a blanket to be placed on the floor with a few, small hand held toys to reach for and explore, or even one of those baby play gym mats which has toys and a soft mirror attached to the mat and overhead soft bars. Save money and living space as bouncy seats, rockers, and all those other baby fads are really not necessary. If you do purchase them or receive them as a gift they can still be used however the rule should be if tummy time can be chosen over placing your baby in one of them than do tummy time.
Tummy time helps stimulate all areas of development and not to mention prevent positional head misshaping like plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. Yes this misshaping can be corrected with a cranial remolding helmet but most insurances do not cover them seeing the correction needed as cosmetic. Tummy time is also a good bonding time to get on the floor with your baby to play and socialize. Being a pediatric physical therapist and mom myself I've seen it with my own child and with the little ones I treat, most babies do not like tummy time but they learn to like it if we make it fun and diverse. It is also important to get everyone on board who helps care for your little one at home and the daycare or center, about the importance of tummy time and the impact on their development. Remember the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play.”