Tummy time refers to time the baby spends on their tummy during the day with supervision from the parent. Through the “Back to sleep” campaign, parents now know that their child should always sleep on their back during the night to prevent “SIDS” (sudden infant death syndrome). This can however lead to the child only lying on their back during the day as well. If a child does not have enough tummy time, their heads may become flattened, either on one side or in the back. This is referred to as “plagiocephaly”/“flat head syndrome”.
It is now recommended that Tummy Time starts the same day the baby is born! Just for a minute or so during the day and from there slowly increase the time, until the baby is 16 weeks old and should be spending around 80 minutes on their tummies. This should be spread throughout the day in short intervals, and only with supervision. You do not have to put your baby down on the floor alone, having them on your chest while you lie down also counts!
Tummy time is important for things other than preventing a flattened head; it is also very important to help the baby develop. Tummy time helps the baby develop their muscles in their back, neck and shoulders and this will help them reach their milestones.
Chiropractic treatment can help babies that are not comfortable lying on their tummies by releasing possibly tight muscles and making sure that the baby is able to lift their head and turn both ways so they can start observing the world.
Here are the recommended durations for tummy time from the World Health Organization:
• Week one – 2 minutes a day
• Week two – 5 minutes a day
• By week 4 -20 minutes a day
• By 8 weeks – 40 minutes a day
• By 16 weeks – 81 minutes a day
(These are only recommendations, but a nice guideline to keep in mind.)