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In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics initiated a campaign to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by suggesting that infants be placed to sleep on their back. As a result of the campaign, SIDS cases decreased. However, at the same time, this resulted in flattening of the back or side of the head. There were also reductions in muscle tone. Thus, if an infant spends a lot of time on it’s back, this may result in delays in developmental milestones. For instance, the muscles in the back and shoulders that are required for rolling over and sitting up will take longer to develop. In turn, tummy time was recommended in order to handle this issue.
First of all, I would get a tummy time mat (you can also just use a blanket). There are a lot of options out there in terms of tummy time mats, so it may take some trial and error to figure which one works best for you and the baby. Here are some examples:
We had the Fisher-Price Mat. This one was great because it had music, lights, and toys that could be grasped. I would typically put my daughter on her belly and put a toy in front of her. I would try to dangle the toy where she’d have to lift her head some in order to see it. The other mat does not have the muscle and lights; however, it does have toys that can keep the baby’s attention.
This one is another possibility. I like this one because the baby can kick their feet onto the piano keys, make noise, and strengthen leg muscles as well.
This is a tummy time floor mirror. This can help keep your baby interested in tummy time, but also help him or her lift their head in order to see themselves.
These are tummy time playboard and art cards. There are 7 animal cards that are high-contrast illustrations that help stimulate your baby’s visual senses. Baby’s also prefer to look at high contrast images, so this will also help keep your baby interested in tummy time.
This inflatable mat has great reviews on Amazon and is a best seller. There are bright colors and sharp contrasts, which can help with visual development. It is recommended for baby’s that are about 3 months of age.
Sometimes baby’s become distressed and cry when they are placed in a potentially stressful situation, in this case, tummy time. In turn, parents may not want to continue with tummy time, because of their infant’s distress and noncompliance. Unfortunately, this can have negative consequences for developing motor skills at the appropriate time.
There are some tips and suggestions to help with this concern:
With time and practice, your baby will become used to tummy time. This will go a long way towards helping your baby develop the muscles and strength for other motor skills!
Kaday, H. J., & Roane, H. S. (2012). Effects of access to a stimulating object on infant behavior during tummy time. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405933/