Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post was written by Ashley Shupe, PT, DPT, pediatric physical therapist at Athletico Oak Park.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when bringing a new infant home from the hospital and, in the early stages of development, positioning is of the utmost importance. Having an infant spend supervised time on their stomach is being recommended by both clinicians and pediatricians and is commonly referred to as “tummy time.” Tummy time has been introduced as a priority since the introduction to the Back to Sleep Campaign developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Tummy time was originally avoided in young infants secondary to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), but the importance of awake tummy time has shown to be incredibly beneficial for gross motor and cognitive development.
Tummy time is recommended very early with supervision. This becomes critical at 3 months when integration of basic reflexes begin and babies begin to develop better head control. This simple position is an important prerequisite to crawling and sitting. When the infant is placed on their stomach they are required to lift their head against gravity. This action builds strength in the extensor muscles of the neck and back. These same muscles will be called upon later in development to help the child maintain an upright posture when sitting. Other key components in this position include weight shift and placing weight through the arms which is required to initiate crawling.
Tummy time is being used at home and in pediatric physical therapy to:
Tips for Success
Supervised tummy time has been shown to be beneficial in helping the child achieve key developmental milestones such as head control and crawling. It helps to strengthen neck musculature and promotes full cervical range of motion. Children can often resist this position; therefore, incorporating tummy time into a daily routine can greatly improve compliance. For more information on tummy time, please contact your pediatrician or pediatric physical therapist. For a list of Athletico facilities offering pediatric physical therapy, click here.