Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Importance of Tummy Time


Lack of tummy time can result in learning delays and poor posture.

We all want what is best for our new precious bundle, but many babies hate tummy time. Why is tummy time so important?
Babies need to develop their spinal muscles and their core muscles. As their core develops, so does their brain and nervous system.

Tummy time recomendations:
One month of life -30 min per day
2nd month -45 min per day
3rd month -60 min per day

Tummy time does not include babywearing or holding baby upright. Tummy time is best on their stomachs, lifting their head up against gravity. There are different ways to help a baby who does not like tummy time, such as putting them on an exercise ball slightly deflated and rocking them in different directions. The rocking assists growth in the vestibular system, assisting neurological development.
Propping baby up on towels or a pillow on your chest elevates the baby and assists them with their visual development, especially those babies who place their heads down as soon as they are on their stomach.

The birth process and how the baby is positioned in utero can affect the neck and thus affect the child's ability to extend the neck and to be able to do adequate tummy time. A chiropractic assessment and gentle treatment can assist and determine if there is a lack of extension in the neck and proper range of motion in your child’s spine. You will also be given gentle stretches and exercises to do with your baby to encourage proper neck movement and better tummy time.

Core Muscle Strength
A baby’s natural response to the prone position (lying on the stomach) is to lift the head and neck. At first, they also raise the arms and legs. Even when it doesn’t look like they’re getting anywhere, the muscles along the core of their body are strengthening. Strong and well-toned core muscles are essential for alertness and attention. Weak core muscles lead to slumped forward posture, poor tone, and  school-age children, their heads resting on desks or fists on their chin for support. These children will also show signs of poor coordination. If their heads are drooping, you can bet their attention is as well.

Visual Tracking
As the core muscles strengthen, the child’s visual field evens out. When the muscles are weak, the head bobbing that results blurs the images around them because they’re unable to focus that quickly. When the muscles develop, the head bobbing decreases, allowing the visual field to even out and become more clear. The eyes and the neck then begin working together to locate objects and determine their location. These developments are not only priming good vision in general, but also visual tracking. Proper visual tracking improves reading skills and helps children copy information from a book or whiteboard.
Vestibular System
It is far easier for a baby’s brain to orient their position in relation to the ground when they are on their tummies. While on their backs, gravity pulls on them in a way that prevents most movement. On their stomachs, they can resist the pull of gravity by doing things such as lifting the head and extremities, which activates the vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for balance and coordination. Children whose vestibular systems aren’t functioning correctly struggle with coordination, discrimination of objects, and even self-regulation. This can lead to behavioral problems, attention span issues, and a whole host of other issues in the classroom.

Dr. Joelle Johnson B.Sc., D.C., focuses her practice on prenatal care, postnatal care, and pediatric chiropractic care in Red Deer Alberta. www.familyfirstchiro.ca 403-347-3261 at 142 Erickson Drive.

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