The American Physical Therapy Association urges parents to make sure babies get enough “tummy time” throughout the day while they’re awake and supervised. In recent years, many therapists have noticed an increase in motor delays in infants who spend too much time on their backs while awake.
In a national survey of 400 pediatric physical and occupational therapists, two-thirds of those surveyed said they’ve seen an increase in early motor delays in infants over the past six years. The therapists who saw an increase in motor delays said that the lack of “tummy time,” or the amount of time infants spend lying on their stomachs while awake, is the major culprit. Lack of tummy time has been shown to contribute to delays in developmental, cognitive, and behavioral skills, among others.
New moms realize the importance of putting sleeping babies on their backs to avoid SIDS, but parents aren’t always informed about the importance of tummy time. Because car seats often serve as infant carriers which also fasten directly into strollers and swing, many babies end up spending most of their waking hours lying on their backs.
According to an article published in the journal Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics newborns and older babies should be placed in a variety of positions while they’re awake. Ideally, babies should be placed on their tummies for brief periods of time, starting with one to two minutes, after every nap, diaper change, and feeding.