Importance of Nannies Providing Supervised Tummy Time

img_6869For centuries babies were put to sleep on their tummies. But now The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep. Putting babies to sleep on their backs decreases their chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since 1992, when the AAP began recommending this sleep position the annual SIDS rate has declined more than 50 percent.

But, professor Peter M. Vishton explains in his course, Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive, as we switched to infants sleeping on their backs, crawling has been starting later than it used to. Crawling used to typically start at six-months and now a bit later. Helping babies to learn to crawl just requires a few minutes a day on their tummies.

Tummy time helps strengthen the head, shoulder, neck, and upper body muscles, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Tummy time develops the muscles needed for crawling, rolling over and reaching. Tummy time can also prevent a baby’s head from becoming flat, advises the Mayo Clinic, a condition that can occur when babies are left on their backs for too long.

Vishton suggests just start by placing babies on a soft carpet or other soft, yet firm, flooring on their tummies. It will be awkward at first. He says they may cry and fuss a little and make uncomfortable wriggling movements, but slowly they will be able to do it longer and without fussing.

Vishton recommends getting down on the floor with your head next to them and interacting with infants can help. AOTA suggests holding a toy in front of their face to get their attention. This will encourage infants to lift their heads and reach. Arrange toys in a circle around infants to promote reaching in many different directions.

The Mayo Clinic advises giving newborns a few minutes of tummy time three or four times each day. Gradually increase tummy time as infants get older. By the time babies are three- to four months-old, they should have at least 20 minutes of tummy time daily.

Vishton says that at about six-months of age self produced locomotion will emerge. They will start exploring the world independently for the first time. Of course the timing will be different for every child — even when raised in the same home with same parents. But all babies roughly follow same pattern of development, rather than timing.

Another reason to encourage tummy time is that cognitive development and motor development go hand in hand. Mental development is growing along with tummy time and then when the crawl.

For example, studies show how an infant who has always been seated their whole life in baby seats and carriers see the world from an egocentric perspective. But once they are on their tummies they start perceiving the entire world differently.

There are also studies that show a lack of time on tummies actually hinders babies development.

img_6867So, when caring for healthy infants, be sure to give babies supervised tummy time each and every day.

You can purchase your own copy of  Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive by Peter M. Vishton, Professor The College of William and Mary by clicking the title in article. Article photo from

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