Some of the web's parenting advice: “Babies need time on their tummies to develop strong neck muscles which will help your baby accomplish all of her physical milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking. Tummy time should start the day Baby comes home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)." I would like to challenge this perspective...
If your baby seems miserable on his belly, it's no wonder. Not only is it unfamiliar, it's physically uncomfortable! It's hard work for your baby to keep his head up when he's on his tummy, if he can even hold his head up at all.
Imagine this. You are one day old and you are put on your stomach on the floor. You have no idea how to use your back extensor muscles to lift your head. You don’t even know you have back extensor muscles yet, or a back! You're still just figuring out you have hands and feet, which you are learning through random movements while on your back.
How would you feel if you were this baby?
I would feel immobilized, uncomfortable, confused, trapped, and helpless. I would cry trying to say “get me out of this position, I can’t move!” I am pretty sure I would prefer exploring movements in the more natural patterns of flexion first, on my back where I have space and freedom to move. I also think I would like to experience the process of getting to my tummy on my own.
Did your baby enjoy tummy time? Most don't. And even those who don't or won't will still develop strong enough muscles, learn to crawl and walk, and live a vibrant life. In fact, those are the babies who are functionally doing the movements their nervous system wants to find, letting the muscles and nature do its job.
meet the blogger
Austen is a pediatric occupational therapist with experience in schools, early intervention, and private clinic settings. She now runs her own private practice in Portland, OR specializing in movement based learning techniques. This blog's mission is to educate and empower parents and children by sharing insights into the complexities of learning and development.