Ever since the Back is Best movement began, it is becoming much more common for babies to develop plagiocephaly, or is common terms, a flat head.
So how do you prevent your baby from getting a flat head? Tummy time! So. much. TUMMY TIME!
Tummy time is important for a few reasons.
First of all, baby’s head is still very soft immediately following birth and does not start to get significantly harder until around 6 months. This is the time frame when tummy time is the most important! While baby’s head is soft, it is malleable and can become flat if he or she does not spend time on their tummy.
Tummy time also help strengthen babies shoulder, neck and back muscles. All of these muscles are essential to crawling, sitting and rolling over.
So how much tummy time should you be doing each day? The answer largely depends on the age of your baby and how comfortable they are with the tummy position.
When your baby is a newborn, tummy time can be as simple at them laying on their stomachs while on your chest. The closeness of your faces will give them something to interesting to lift their head and look at. You can also lay them across your legs. Start with just a few minutes at a time and increase from there. Once baby is a little older (3-4 months) and comfortable with the stomach position, try moving them to the floor so that they can begin playing more actively during tummy time.
By this age, minimum of 40-60 minutes a day is suggested (source). However, the doctor who we saw in regards to Emmy’s flat spot on her head told us that there was no such thing as too much tummy time. As long as Emmy was awake and not nursing or riding in the car, we were doing some sort of tummy time activity. Tummy time can be broken up into small sessions throughout the day to make it easier on baby.
For some babies, tummy time may not might not be the most enjoyable part of the day. The good news is, as those muscles get stronger, the fussing should start to fade away.
In the mean time, keep it interesting for baby. Try doing tummy time outside on a blanket where they are lots of new things to look at. Tummy time in front of a floor mirror is always a hit in our house too! A water mat is also a small, inexpensive toy made just for tummy time that was a huge hit in our house.
It is important that you do not leave baby unattended during tummy time. If you become concerned about your baby’s head shape, consult with their physician.
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