Tummy time. Every parent has heard of it. Almost every parent thinks its important. We want our children to succeed. We want to do whats best for them. Tummy time is often thought of as something that needs to be done. But most babies dislike tummy time. I think babies dislike tummy time because it is uncomfortable.
Imagine yourself as the baby. You spend most of your day being held or laying on your back to sleep. But suddenly you are on your stomach. You want to look around, lift your head up and see where you are. But you can’t. Your head is too heavy, your muscles too weak. You try and try to lift your head, with little success. It is a struggle. You might even feel helpless. You can’t talk, you can’t let anyone know this is uncomfortable, that you don’t like this. All you can do is cry. And try to lift your head.
I can’t even imagine how I would feel if I could not use my neck muscles. If I was placed in position I could not get in myself, could not use my body, I would be incredibly sad. And scared. I do not want my babies to be scared. Especially not my newborn.
Instead of doing tummy time, allow baby to roll onto their tummy when they are ready. Baby will learn to roll. Let baby be in control of their body. Let them learn at their own pace.
If you still feel the need to do tummy time, do it when baby is on your chest. Sit in a comfortable chair and lay baby tummy to tummy on your body. Allow baby to lift his or her head up on their own. This give you the sense of tummy time without giving baby the sense of not being in control of their body.
Researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada studied more than 1,100 babies born between 1990 and 1992 (when the recommendation for laying a baby on their back to sleep started) and compared them to over 350 infants born two decades later. There was found to be no difference between the two groups when it came to the age the babies started rolling over from back to tummy and tummy to back. This means keeping baby on their back through out the day and night does NOT effect the timing of when baby learns to roll over.
My 5 week old is an expert at lifting his head up. He has never been placed on his stomach. I hold him tummy to tummy and he lifts his little head. For as long as he wants. He rests when he needs to. He is able to take in his surroundings at his pace, with his comfort level. He does not get sad. He enjoys looking around. He often leans his head back and stares at me. We have had many good (one sided) conversations like this.
Here is a wonderful video showing a baby learning to roll on her own, without tummy time.
Here are some more articles on why tummy time is not as important as we think it is.