I am a paediatric physiotherapist and the founder/owner of Kids Physio Group in Vancouver & Surrey. For years now I’ve been hammering down the importance of Tummy Time to countless parents who have come to the clinic seeking physiotherapy for conditions like torticollis (tight neck), plagiocephaly (flat head) and gross motor delay (late crawling, standing, walking etc.) This past April, my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world and started on a journey of intense, hands-on & practical experience. And I have to tell you, the Tummy Time advice is for real.
Let’s roll back a little and discuss why this is so important for your child’s development. Babies are born in relative flexion (think: fetal position) and stay that way for several weeks. Tummy Time works on extension which helps to get them out of the fetal position. Slowly, babies start to discover hip and arm movements but for the most part, like to remain tucked up & cozy, sleeping the days away.
***This is the best time to start introducing Tummy Time!
From my experience, a baby under 6 weeks does not tend to mind being face down especially while against mom or dad’s chest. So lay back, and enjoy these cuddles, it’s the starting place for building your baby’s endurance in Tummy Time. To take it a step further, try placing your child on a soft blanket on the couch or over your knees.
Building habit is important and the easiest way to get Tummy Time in during your busy day is to do it after every diaper change. These regular, short boughts of Tummy Time build endurance and strength without too many tears and you’ll quickly find your baby beginning to lift their head a little to look around.
Between 6-8 weeks, you’ll find that your baby has a few more wakeful minutes that you need to fill. Honestly, this came as a surprise to me! I didn’t really know what to do now that little N was awake for more than a few minutes! This is a great time to invest in a Play Mat that has colorful patterns, mirrors and sensory toys. Place your child on their tummy for the first few minutes. Our mat came with a little pillow but you can easily roll up a small towel to place under their arms to give them added support. Now’s the fun part – get down on the floor with your baby! The Tummy Time will also do wonders for your sore back! Get eye to eye, sing a song, rattle a toy, push a truck by. Basically anything that keeps their attention for a few minutes, keeping their mind off the hard work. And please, let them fuss a little before swooping in to roll them over. That’s right – ROLL them over, don’t pick them up. Let them learn that rolling will get them out of Tummy Time. Once settled, roll them back to their tummy and do another few minutes. TT, roll, back time, roll, repeat!
My final tip to making Tummy Time easier is to try carrying your baby more. Ergo, Beco, Bjorn, Wrap – whatever you fancy. Carrying leads to stronger neck muscles which makes Tummy Time even easier!
So back to why is Tummy Time so important. It helps to:
- prevent torticollis
- prevent plagiocephaly (flat spots on heads)
- promote reciprocal crawling as a major miletsone. Tummy Time & crawling builds a very strong foundation for upper body strength, (think: monkey bars) core strength (think: posture), coordination (think: athlete) and cross crawl patterning (think: eye-hand coordination).
- promote digestive health (helps to get gas out, keeping babies happier)
- build visual development
- build cognitive development
Fast forward to today and little N is just over 6 months. He’s been sitting on his own for a few weeks now and is beginning to pull himself along in commando crawling and push up into 4-point kneeling. All the right milestones for crawling! But please remember, all babies progress through milestones at different rates. My point is to encourage you to give your child the best start possible.
Kids Physio Group is a private pediatric physiotherapy clinic designed exclusively for kids! Our team of physiotherapists specialize in treating children and make learning new skills and rehabilitating from injury super fun. If you think your child would benefit from the special care and attention of a one-on-one appointment with a physiotherapist, please contact the clinic for more information. We are active on the web and other social media channels.
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Laura Patrick is the Founder and Owner of Kids Physio Group at 210-3369 Fraser St, Vancouver BC, second location in Surrey, BC.
Interested in more information? Kids Physio Group offers one-to-on sessions for parents with infants and toddlers. Come learn more from a pediatric physiotherapist about specific activities that will promote gross motor milestone achievement. We will teach you valuable information on positioning and handling a young child for optimal motor development. We also offer treatment for infants with torticollis, plagiocephaly and gross motor delay.
Kids Physio Group also provides physiotherapy treatments for children, youths and teens with physical disabilities, growth-related injuries, sports injuries, post-concussion rehab and more. Our vision is to nurture and empower children to reach their highest gross motor potential in and fun and inspiring environment.