In the last few years, pediatricians have recommended placing infants on their backs for sleep. This recommendation was a result of studies showing this positioning technique decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In fact, the number of cases of SIDS has dropped dramatically since the “Back to Sleep” campaign was started. However, babies are spending more time on their backs these days. This may cause the shape of the head to flatten on one side or across the back of the head. This is not to direct parents to avoid the “Back to Sleep” positioning. What is recommended is to realize the importance of “Tummy Time”.
“Tummy Time” is placing the infant on her belly during supervised playtime. Initially, the infant may fuss and cry with this game. Remember, the is like a work-out because the neck muscles are not very strong. Therefore, parents should begin with just a few seconds of “Tummy Time” several times per day and work up to minutes over a few weeks. Always supervise the infant when playing”Tummy Time” and do not place the infant on a surface which is too soft such as a pillow.
Increasing “Tummy Time” will help the baby’s neck muscles to strengthen and help keep the infant’s head from flattening at the back of the head. Besides causing malformation of the skull some babies who do not get enough “Tummy Time” may not meet some of their gross motor milestones such as rolling over, and crawling.
“Tummy Time” is important to start early. Start with a few seconds several times per day, working up to a few minutes. Always supervise the infant on its tummy. “Tummy Time” will help promote achieving motor milestones and help prevent flattening of the back of the skull.