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Lesson 33: Tummy Time!

Tummy time made J one pissed off baby. But still, I diligently placed him on his tummy several times a day. I watched him lift his head up and scowl at me, eventually learning to push himself up with his tiny arms. Once he learned to roll over, he didn’t mind it so much. But until then? He gave me the evil death glare every time I left him on his tummy for an extended period of time.

But why do so much forced tummy time? Is it really necessary?

The Healthy Child Care America Back to Sleep Campaign began in 2003 when the American Academy of Pediatrics partnered with several national child care and health organizations to promote the back to sleep message, among other things, to parents and child care programs. Although SIDS is certainly not preventable, placing an infant on her back to sleep can greatly reduce the risk.

The problem (if you want to call it that) is that babies’ skulls are soft and made up of movable plates. So while we’ve seen the rate of SIDS drop 50% since the AAP first began recommending that babies sleep on their backs in 1992, we’ve also seen an increase in flat head syndrome. Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, therefore they spend a lot of time lying flat on their backs, which can cause the back of the head to become flat.

One way to help prevent a flat head is to make sure your infant gets plenty of tummy time. In addition, tummy time can help make the neck and shoulder muscles stronger and can improve your baby’s motor skills.

Still, recent studies have questioned whether or not tummy time is actually necessary. A study published in Early Human Development in 2012 found that putting babies to sleep on their backs has had no impact on the age at which infants roll over. Further, the necessity of tummy time, according to the study, isn’t clear.

The verdict? Put your baby on his back to sleep to help protect against SIDS. Give him some tummy time every day, but don’t stress over it if it makes him pissy. It will certainly help strengthen his muscles, but he’ll get there anyway. Tummy time should be a fun time for him to see the world from a different perspective and to experiment with his little body. So don’t make it a timed exercise, just go with it.

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One comment on “Lesson 33: Tummy Time!

  1. I’d never even heard of this.

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