Tummy Time Revisited
Tere Bowen Irish wrote a powerful guest editorial for Advance last week on the importance of tummy time that is well worth reading (or re-reading!). Entitled Back to Sleep Tummy to Play (Advance 8/1/12) she recaps some of the sobering statistics of the amount of time babies from birth to 2 now spend in a car seat (500 hours vs. 200 hours back in the early 1960s) along with the perils of the baby bucket..that infant carrier turned car seat, grocery cart seat, swing etc. She challenges us as a profession to start and/or escalate getting the word out on the importance of tummy time, and she gives some helpful suggestions and ideas for the mission. As a speaker at many conferences, in school systems, early intervention and Headstart organizations, I know I have been on this crusade for awhile. Well-meaning parents, day care and other early childhood providers often express concerns over SIDS along with the hygiene and safety issues of putting a child down to play, so feel they are doing the "right thing" by keeping a baby contained (often supine) in an infant carrier and/or in the activity seats that are sold by many baby equipment and toy companies. As a picture is worth a thousand words, in my presentations I include a slide of a baby with deformational (or positional) plagiocephaly and discuss how lack of good tummy time may contribute to this increasing phenomenon (1 in 40 babies who sleep on their back now develop a flat and there seems to be a risk factor for increased ear infections with this skull deformity Journal of Craniofacial Surgery Sept. 2009) as this seems to help drive the point home. I also like Dr. Anne Zachry's article on Why Tummy Time Matters (Advance 2/14/12) as she gives other practical suggestions for parents and caregivers to encourage creative ways to incorporate tummy time. As Tere closes in her editorial... "We challenge all pediatric and school-based practitioners to "go there" with a prevention model that professionals and laymen alike can access. Let's give children a jump start on their developmental paths." I am striving to do my part. Let me know yours!