A recent post on the New York Times Motherlode blog has readers in a tizzy. The issue? Whether "tummy time"...
A recent post on the New York Times Motherlode blog has readers in a tizzy. The issue? Whether "tummy time" is necessary for a baby's proper development. The post drew on an article published in Slate about tummy time and the growing number of studies that apparently support the need for tummy time. We all know babies used to be put to sleep on their tummies, but then the advice changed because of the risk of SIDS, so now parents are told to put their babies to sleep on their backs. As a result, it appears that a lot of babies are spending some serious time on their backs. Lisa Belkin, author of the Motherlode blog post "Tummy Time" for Babies, suggests the following:
Over the past few years, therefore, some pediatricians are adding to their advice. Put baby to sleep on her back, they say, but also make sure she spends some supervised playtime on her front. It’s as simple as lying down with a newborn on your chest before they can support their own heads, and surrounding them with toys they can look at and reach for once they can.
And that got the comments going! Some were annoyed:
Aaagh! I hate when studies make such far-reaching claims! This list of what I have to do now so that my child will not be delayed / stupid / fat / depressed / short / ugly / etc in 25 years is just too much! I have two kids. I put them both on their backs to sleep. I tried tummy time, and they hated it, and I stopped until they were a little older and didn't hate it any more. My oldest walked a little after a year. My younger one is walking at 11 months. What does this show? Absolutely nothing!!
Others agreed:
I am glad to see this topic receiving attention in the popular press. Not only is the lack of tummy time problematic for head shape, creeping and other gross motor milestones, it also has a strong impact on strength and stability of the shoulders and arms and the separation of the two sides of the hands for grasp and fine motor coordination. As an occupational therapist working with children, I receive many referrals on children because of these delays and later problems in school with handwriting and fine motor skills. In early school years, as much as 60% of learning activity involve manipulatives and hand use - so the implications can be significant well beyond infancy and early childhood.
So much discussion about tummy time! Me? I'm not sure. Yes, I admit it. I don't know what to think. (Do not tell my husband!) My babies came home at an age when they were no longer at serious risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. My son was ten months old and had spent so much time lying on his back in a crib while he lived in an orphanage that he had a permanent flat spot on the back of his head. It's still there, three years later. When I say permanent, I mean it! The last thing I wanted was for him to spend any more time on his back. If he'd been younger, I would have most definitely insisted on tummy time. As it was, he was mobile so tummy time was no longer a consideration. And he was behind in his physical development. (He has since caught up, thanks to a lot of effort and Occupational Therapy.) Because his case was extreme, I cannot say the physical developmental delays resulted from a lack of tummy time or that a lack of tummy time was a contributing factor. There were plenty of issues at play. However, it does prove to me that has to be some value in tummy time when the alternative is too much "back time." At least a little. What I do know is that a lot of babies spend significant time in bouncers, Exersaucers or walkers. (Note that walkers are often considered unsafe.) Perhaps trading some of that time for more engaged activity time would be a great start. Conversely, I'm a huge fan of babywearing and I've seen the argument that babywearing detracts from development. So, yes, I'm left scratching my head. >>It's hard to know what to do sometimes, isn't it? What do you think? Weigh in on the poll: ]]>

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