The 'Back to Sleep' campaign works to keep babies safe, but it also means lots of little ones have flat heads. It also means there is a need for 'Tummy Time' -- a designated time every single day (some recommend at least TWO HOURS a day!) where baby is placed on their soft and squishy belly to encourage them to hold their head up, build those back and neck muscles, and, of course, take pressure off the little head.
So when I heard of someone saying that this practice is not only unnecessary, but mean, I wanted to know more.
Gutteridge says that babies who have not yet developed the ability to roll onto their bellies really aren't designed to be there:
Putting infants on their tummies without having them go through the process of getting to their tummy on their own is analogous to injecting their back extensor muscles with that local anesthetic. They are paralyzed and basically unable to access their back extensor muscles, mainly because the actual act of getting to their tummy from their back (something that takes months!) is what forms their spinal curves -- the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical -- and in turn gives them strength in their back muscles.
I have to admit the only real Tummy Time I did with my kiddos, especially my second, was ON me. We'd be doing a laid back nursing position, or I'd just be laying on the couch with them on me, and they'd raise their tiny little heads to see my face. Even newborns can raise their heads (and even crawl a little!) to get to the breast when placed on top of their mom's belly. But placed on the floor? Not so much.
How many parents do you hear complaining that their baby HATES Tummy Time? Gutteridge says that's your baby's way of saying, “Hey, what’s going on, this sucks. I’m uncomfortable. HELP!”
I'm not so sure Tummy Time is evil, but it does look awkward on the floor, especially when they're too little to roll that way themselves. I always felt bad when their little heads would drop and the face would smack on the floor (even on the padded, soft carpet and blanket).
My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that babies who are kept upright throughout the majority of the day, in carriers, arms, instead of laid down in car seats, bassinets, bouncers are going to benefit a lot, and you can see them working those little muscles to stabilize their heads then as well. It's probably part of the reason I didn't do a lot of Tummy Time, even though both my kids were rolling at less than a month old. I'm a big supporter of avoiding "Container Syndrome," which also helps alleviate a lot of flat head issues as well.
What do you guys think? Is Tummy Time a necessary evil or an unnecessary waste of time?
Image via koadmunkee/Flickr