Honestly, I would like to know of one baby who actually enjoys tummy time. Some babies tolerate tummy time, but how many babies squeal in delight the second you put them on their bellies? I’m not talking about a baby who is 4 or 5 months old and is getting ready to crawl soon. I’m talking about a very young baby. I’m not a professional in the area of infant physiological development, but it’s pretty obvious to tell when a baby is enjoying something or not… Yet, tummy time is something that is pushed so heavily! And why???
For my kids, in those early months, tummy time was something that was very distressing to them! So, I rarely ever did it.
Despite the fact that my kids had very little tummy time… developmentally they were spot on, or even early in their physical milestones. If I never gave them tummy time, then how did they get so strong? I know it’s from babywearing, carrying them. When you wear (or even just carry) a baby on your body, every time you move, they have to move! You bend over, they’re bending over with you. Even if you have your hand gently supporting their neck when you go to bend over, they are still having to use their own muscles to cling to you, or at least hold their head up enough to keep it from flopping back!
They feel the rhythm of your body with everything that you’re doing together. Baby wearing and holding is as tactile as it gets. Feeling, touching, breathing (clinging on for dear life sometimes), it’s all part of the way that a baby learns from its mother.
Won’t A Baby Feel Squashed in a Babycarrier?
We sometimes forget that a baby has been smooshed in a tummy for 9 months, so they’re used to being froggie position in a baby carrier. It’s important to follow correct baby wearing practices. Always have the baby’s head in kissing distance. Don’t wear very small babies outward facing. Make sure the airways are clear. But, so long as it’s done safely, babywearing is actually excellent for a baby’s growth and development.
I’m not saying that if you don’t carry your baby everywhere, they’re never going to learn. I certainly use one of those bouncer things as a chair for my babies to sit in, so they can watch when I have to do something and can’t hold her. And, I certainly stick her on the floor next to us while I’m folding laundry. From a biological point of view, if you think of our ancient ancestors, they probably didn’t leave their newborn babies on the ground to get tummy time, someone in the tribe had them in a sling or was there to hold the baby.
Flat Head Syndrome More Common These Days
Ever since the ‘back to sleep‘ campaign, recommending putting babies to sleep on their backs, a lot more babies have been getting flat heads. The answer that many doctors recommend is to do more tummy time or to even buy the baby a helmet to help re-shape the head. But, a very simple solution, that is often never recommended, is to just wear your baby for a couple hours a day. That one or two hours a day is one or two hours less a day that the baby spends flat on his or her back. Between sleeping on a flat surface, sitting in the car, stroller, baby bouncer, etc. babies rarely get a chance to use those neck and head muscles! At least by wearing or carrying your baby for a little, you would reduce the amount of time a baby spends on their back by a little. And, who wants to be staring at the sky 24/7 anyway? Babies love looking around.
Today, I was running errands at the shops, and my daughter was awake the whole time, wrapped on my chest. She was looking around at everything, holding her head up the entire time. For a three month old baby, holding her head up for about an hour is a major workout! If she had been in a stroller, she would have been flat on her back, not using those neck and back muscles at all. Plus, what a great workout for me… carrying around a 14 pound weight for an hour!
Manhandle Those Babies!
My mother always said that she used to manhandle my brothers and I as newborns. You know, fling us over her shoulder and carry us around while she got stuff done. Most people didn’t use baby carriers in the 80’s. We really had to hang on! So, maybe in our society, we need to take a look at designated ‘tummy time’. Are we using it as the ONLY time that the baby gets a break from being flat on his back? I say, get more hands on, leave the stroller at home more often and carry or wear that baby! It’s great exercise for the adult as a well as the baby! Babywearing also increases bonding. And, it reduces face-planting and crying at tummy time too! Hooray! I’m not saying that you should never use a stroller, or never give your baby tummy time. Tummy time is really valuable! But, I am saying that when babies are tiny, and obviously don’t enjoy tummy time, we should carry them around as often as we can!