Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Babies Need More 'Tummy Time'

Some experts are calling babies who spend too much time in car seats and not enough time on their tummy "bucket babies." Medical professionals are blaming a lack of 'tummy time' for a substantial increase in developmental delays among children across the United States.

Babies who don't spend enough time on their bellies tend to experience a reduction in fine and gross motor skills, and even sensory development. Building up strength in the upper body early in life contributes to skills such as writing, using tools and climbing. The exercise helps babies to develop neck muscles, which are necessary for the most basic functions such as speaking, eating, and even visual focus. Without tummy time, babies are more likely to skip the crawling stage altogether, which experts once thought was a benign milestone to miss; however, they are now discovering that crawling contributes to core strength throughout life, an essential component for athletics and even good handwriting.

The reason that babies aren’t getting the necessary developmental practice is two-pronged. For one, the “Back to Sleep” campaign that was launched in an effort to reduce the number of babies dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), led many parents to hesitate to put their babies on their bellies. The other is attributed to modern devices such as swings, bouncy seats and other popular devices that encourage babies to sit or lie on their backs. While these devices are largely used by parents, caregivers and daycares to keep babies safe they limit movement and exposure to the environment around them, delaying development of the senses.

You can start putting your baby on his or her belly as soon as you get home from the hospital. Playing and engaging with your baby 2-3 times a day for short periods is enough to start developing the right muscles. In the beginning, putting the baby on your chest might be more fun because the baby can see you without lifting the head very high. As your child grows accustomed to the practice, you can increase the duration. Try using mirrors and toys to spice it up.

Is your baby getting enough tummy time?

Tummy Time [BabyWeekly]
Experts: Lack of ‘tummy time’ causes development delays in children [KY3]