Importance of Tummy Time for Muscle Development
Tummy time is a great way for infants to strengthen their muscles and develop age appropriate motor skills. When a baby is born they are in a position referred to as physiological flexion which simply means they are in a “curled up” position. All their back muscles are stretched and their core muscles are tight. By incorporating as much tummy time as possible, babies are allowed to strengthen their back by extending and stretch their tummy and core muscles at the same time. Encouraging floor time is key to developing motor skills such as rolling, sitting, crawling, and eventually walking.
Jumpers, Swings, and Exersaucers
Devices that aid in childcare can be lifesavers, such as when you are taking a shower or cooking, however, they should never replace the benefit that a child receives from floor time. When a baby plays on the floor they are using their entire body to explore their space. On the contrary, when they are in a swing or jumper, something is not being utilized. Excessive use of swings can result in flattening of the skull or a preference to tilt their head to one direction which can then lead to muscle shortening that requires intervention. Jumpers, exersaucers, and bumbo seats can also result in muscle disuse since the hips are frequently placed in unnatural positions and the core is not allowed to rotate as much as when a child is working to navigate the floor. When using devices such as the ones mentioned above, be mindful to limit their use in order to maximize muscle development.
Developmental Red Flags to Be Aware of
Sometimes babies will discover a pattern that is different than what we typically expect. Below are some movement patterns to be aware of and mention to your pediatrician should you notice them.
- Scooting on their bottom to get around rather than crawling. This does not allow for the proper leg strengthening and cross lateral movement that crawling incorporates.
- Pulling up to stable surfaces using only hands and not adjusting legs in order to push themselves up.
- Stiffness in the legs or trunk that is constant and impacting movement; may first become evident with a lack of voluntary rolling.
- Head position that is not in line with the body or a preference to only look in one direction, roll in one direction, or reach with only one hand.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood,Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!