Tummy Time and Why it is Important

Tummy time is influential with helping your child develop the muscles they need for physical development in their early years. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses tummy time, and has stated that it is important for infants to spend time on their tummy in short increments throughout the day since they spend so much time on their backs.

Infants need time on their tummy while they are awake to strengthen their head, neck and upper body muscles. Tummy time helps to build the strength and coordination that infants need to roll over, crawl, and reach for things. Tummy time is beneficial for all infants, including newborns. Although the length of time for tummy time for newborns is much shorter than for babies that are 3-6 months of age.

The benefits of tummy time continue beyond strengthening muscles. Tummy time also helps to reduce the risk of positional plagiocephaly, which is also known as flattened head. An infant’s skull is made up of several separate bones that eventually fuse together, but in infancy they allow for the child’s brain to grow. If an infant is spending a lot of time lying on their back, they are susceptible to having their head be molded into a flat shape. Infants that have a flat spot on their heads sometimes have to put more work into moving their head in certain directions, depending on where the flattening is, which causes them to use their muscles incorrectly and it can hinder their development and affect them their entire life. Cassandra Borlaug, MS, OTR/L from PTP notes that “Not only is tummy time important for a child's motor development, but also sensory and cognitive development. Tummy time promotes a better understanding of a child's position in space and body awareness, exposure to a variety of textures, movement of the head and body, and ability to see and look around.”

Sharon Drewlo, BS, OTR/L from PTP highlights that there are reasons other than gaining motor skills that it is important to engage in tummy time.  “Your baby is also getting exposed to tactile stimulation to the front side of her body when doing tummy time.  Instead of looking up at the ceiling when lying on her back, your baby can work on developing near point vision when on her tummy and gain a different visual reference to the world around her.” 

It is easy to incorporate tummy time into your everyday routine, especially if you start when your infant is a newborn. For newborns start with placing them on their tummy in your lap for a minute or two, or place them on your stomach or chest while you are awake and in a reclined position on a chair, bed, or the floor.
As they get to be older and more active, babies can be placed on their tummy on a blanket on the floor starting with short intervals of 2-3 minutes at a time and work up to at least 20 minutes of tummy time per day. Be sure to pay attention that your baby is not getting tired or resting their face while engaging in tummy time. You can also encourage your baby to move and interact with you by holding toys or by placing a mirror in front of them to get their attention, which will encourage them to lift their head and reach for things.

If you are worried that your baby is not properly developing and reaching their developmental milestones, give our sister company Early Intervention Partners a call to set up a free screening.

For more information on establishing tummy time, check out the following resources.

Winter Olympics and Learning

The Winter Olympics are only a couple weeks away! The Olympics are the perfect time to teach kids about all kinds of things. Not only can we teach them about parts of the world that are different from where we live, but we can also teach them about all of the different sports and the science and dedication that is involved with the preparation for each sport. We all have our favorite Olympic sports that we enjoy watching for both the summer and the winter Olympics and we can use those favorite sports as education tools for kids.

Starting with the location of the Olympics, kids can learn about the cultural aspects of where the Olympics are being hosted. This year the Olympics are held for the first time in Russia, in the host city of Sochi. Sochi has a population of 400,000 people and it is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region of Russia.  The Opening Ceremony for the Olympics provides a glimpse into the culture of the location through the use of dance and other cultural aspects that are integrated into the ceremony.  Another part of the opening ceremony that is discussion worthy with kids is the parade of nations. You can discuss with kids beforehand different countries to look out for during the parade of nations, and turn it into a game. A possibility here is playing Flags of the World Bingo, where each of the kids has a card then when the flags go by the can mark it off on their bingo card.

When it comes to the actually events of the Olympics, you can talk through them with your child and help them to understand the rules of the different events. You can then help your child keep score of which country is in the lead to win the medals in each of their favorite events. You can even incorporate using motor skills by having your child write out the score board to keep track.

For more ideas on how to incorporate learning into watching the Winter Olympics, head on over to our Pinterest page to see ideas from books to read, games to play, and other fun activities for kids that are all Olympic themed. 

New Year's Resolutions

Does your family make a point to have New Year’s resolutions each year? The beginning of a year can be a great time to revisit old goals and create new goals that can help children to grow in various different ways; much like the goals that kiddos in therapy have. Here are some tips on how you and your child can create New Year’s resolutions that are kid friendly.

  • Talk with your child and discuss what goals they might like to achieve. For some kids, they might want to improve their reading skills and would like to have a goal of reading one book or chapter a day or trying new foods, but for others their goals might be a physical accomplishment that they would like to achieve. Remember to start with small goals so children won’t be overwhelmed by the aspect of working towards achieving their goal.
  • Have your child choose and write their goal down and post it somewhere that it is visible. Hang it on the fridge, or in another location where it will be looked at daily.
  • Be supportive and encouraging of your child’s effort to accomplish their goal. If they miss a day or two, tell them that is alright and that they can still work towards accomplishing their goal. Tell them how great you think they are doing, and set up some sort of reward for when they reach their goal.
  • Set resolutions for yourself and post them next to your child’s. This can be a conversation point by being able to discuss with your child what is working to achieve the goals and what isn't working, as well as how you and your child are feeling about the goals that have been set. By doing this you are also helping your child learn to keep someone else accountable.  
By setting New Year's resolutions with your children, not only will it give them something to work forward to, but it will also give them the opportunity to build valuable life skills. Are you unsure if the goals your child picked out are good goals for them to have, or are looking for some suggestions of goals? Talk with your child's therapist at PTP to see what they might recommend for your child.