I did a lot of reading when I was pregnant and during those first few months of my daughter’s life. About different parenting styles, how to support my child’s development, and about tummy time. I’m guessing that most of you have heard that tummy time is very much encouraged for babies.
But here is the thing: most babies under 4 months don’t actually like to be on their tummies. And who can blame them? It is hard work for their muscles to hold their head up.
So, why is there this recommendation for tummy time? And could babywearing be an alternative?
Let’s dive in and find answers to those questions!
The reason for tummy time
The main reason why tummy time is recommended for babies is to reduce the risk of Flat Head Syndrome.
Many people think that the main reason for Flat Head Syndrome is because your baby should sleep on its back instead of his tummy. In the ‘90s health care providers started to recommend that babies should sleep on their backs to prevent the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). However, the time when a baby sleeps isn’t the only time that it spends on its back. Thanks to a lot of very practical baby holding devices such as baby capsules (used outside of the car), baby swings, rockers or infant pillows many babies spend lots of their time in a lying position on their backs. And in addition to being on their backs they are not able to move in those devices, but instead stay in one position and increase the risk of getting Flat Head Syndrome.
To get your baby out of those positions and avoid the risk of Flat Head Syndrome it is recommended that your baby spends some time every day on its tummy. But as I mentioned before, young babies under 4 months don’t like to be on their tummies.
I believe that the answer isn’t simply to put our babies on their tummies for as long as possible. I think that we should rather aim to minimize the time our baby spends in one of those devices to a minimum. Because they hold our babies in one position and don’t give them a chance to move and strengthen their muscles in their own time.
Babywearing instead of tummy time
One way how you can easily get your baby in a different position is through babywearing. When you are wearing your baby in a carrier or sling there is no pressure on the head. In fact, in a carrier your baby is in a very natural position with a slight curve of the spine and their knees up high. Just like they would be if you would carry them in your arms alone.
Babywearing has the advantage that your baby will naturally work on strengthening its neck and head muscles while being worn. Your movements will also help your baby to develop his vestibular system (which controls balance) faster than usual.
Tummy time still has its place. But it will be a lot more beneficial to your child’s development, when tummy time happens on your baby’s terms. With this I mean that your baby should be old enough to roll over from its back on to its tummy by itself. Before that happens, there are lots of different ways how the Flat Head Syndrome can be avoided.
Ideas for babywearing instead of baby holding devices
The main thing will be to keep your baby away from baby holding devices as much as possible. So, think about those times you would usually have your baby in one of those devices and what you could do instead.
When you go to the supermarket with the car and your baby is in the car seat already, it is easy to just take the whole car seat. But especially newborns can easily be transferred from a car seat to a carrier even when they are asleep.
Instead of leaving your baby in a car seat capsule and placing this on a stroller, you can wear your baby in a carrier. This will give you the bonus of a little workout while on your walk. And your baby is more likely to fall asleep while cuddled up against you.
Perhaps you like to place your baby in a rocker or swing while you cook or do other chores around the house. But how about carrying your child, while you do those tasks. Your baby will be able to see much better what you are doing when he is up there with you instead of down in the rocker.
Share with me!
Can you think of any other examples, when you are using babywearing as a tool to avoid baby holding devices? Please let me know in the comments!
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