“Tummy Time” for Babies

Quoted below is an excerpt of the latest news by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).  A survey has revealed that there have been an increase in early motor delays in infants over the past six years.  The lack of “tummy time” was noted to be the number one contributor to the escalation in cases.

LACK OF TIME ON TUMMY SHOWN TO HINDER ACHIEVEMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES, SAY PHYSICAL THERAPISTS
APTA Recommendations In Line with National Survey Findings

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 6, 2008 — The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is urging parents and caregivers to ensure that babies get enough “tummy time” throughout the day while they are awake and supervised, in light of a recent survey of therapists who say they’ve noticed an increase in motor delays in infants who spend too much time on their backs while awake.

In the national survey of 400 pediatric physical and occupational therapists, conducted on behalf of Pathways Awareness, a non-profit group dedicated to early detection of motor delays in children, two-thirds of those surveyed say they’ve seen an increase in early motor delays in infants over the past six years. The survey was conducted with the assistance of APTA’s Section on Pediatrics and the Neuro-Development Treatment Association (NDTA).

Those physical therapists who saw an increase in motor delays said that the lack of “tummy time,” or the amount of time infants spend lying on their stomachs while awake, is the number one contributor to the escalation in cases.

APTA spokesperson Judy Towne Jennings, PT, MA, a physical therapist and researcher from Fairfield, Ohio, said, “We have seen first-hand what the lack of tummy time can mean for a baby: developmental, cognitive, and organizational skills delays, eye-tracking problems, and behavioral issues, to name just some complications.” She added, “New parents are told of the importance of babies sleeping on their backs to avoid SIDS, but they are not always informed about the importance of tummy time.”

Jennings explains that because new parents now use car seats that also serve as infant carriers – many of which fasten directly into strollers and swings without having to remove the baby from the seat — this generation of babies spends prolonged periods of time in one position. She recommends that awake babies be placed in a variety of positions, including on their tummies, as soon as they return home from the hospital. “Ideally, babies should be placed on their tummies after every nap, diaper change and feeding, starting with 1-2 minutes,” she said. Jennings is co-author of the research, “Conveying the Message about Optimal Infant Positions,” Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, Volume 25, Number 3, 2005.

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