by Danielle Carter, OTR/L

Many parents are excited for their babies to meet their milestones quickly, sometimes even encouraging early standing in the hopes of having an early walker.  While this can be tempting and easy to do, being patient and allowing babies to move through developmental stages on their own timeline can really pay off in the toddler, preschool, and school age years.

Historically, infants spent most of their time on their tummies, but there has been a recent shift in the frequency and duration of tummy time.  The “Back To Sleep” campaign was an important safety recommendation and there has also has been an increased use of swings, car seats at home, and bouncy seats.  As a result, babies are spending more and more time on their backs.  While safety is always first and back to sleep continues to be best, tummy time remains an important daytime position to encourage.

Tummy time promotes many building block skills which your baby will need in the future.  Development of the palmar arches, core strength, shoulder girdle strength, head control, visual perceptual skills, coordination and balance are all things that your baby is working on during tummy time.

In fact, babies who had limited tummy time may experience future delays including:

  • Immature grasp patterns leading to poor or slow letter formation/handwriting skills.
  • Difficulty with dressing such as managing snaps, zippers, buttons, or tying shoes.
  • Poor functional visual skills such as scanning, tracking, and both eyes teaming together which are needed for moving safely through their world and for future learning and reading skills.
  • Difficulty sitting still or poor posture affecting learning due to decreased core strength.
  • Attention issues due to poor core strength, delayed vestibular processing, coordination, balance, or visual perceptual delays.

Getting down on the floor with your baby can not only be a great time for bonding, but also sets them up for success in many areas of development.  If your baby is resistant to tummy time, please contact Kidspeak for an Occupational Therapy evaluation.  We may be able to determine the reason for your baby’s resistance and make some recommendations for ways to encourage this very important position.