Grandma’s View: Is “Tummy Time” Still Needed?

mamasWhen this Grandma’s children were babies, we were told to have the babies sleep on their stomachs so that if they vomited in their sleep they would not choke on the vomit. That changed when this Grandma’s grandchildren were babies, when we were told NOT to have babies sleep on their stomachs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There is even a website to go to for information on this.

Of course, this Grandma was concerned. There was concern that having babies sleep on their backs required them to have “tummy time” when they were awake for muscle development. I researched and purchased the best “Tummy Time” toys recommended as award winners on my favorite website.  After reading the article, “’Tummy Time’ May Not Be Needed,” I went on the website to see about current recommended tummy time toys. There is an award winner for 2013!

Mamas and Papas Large Activity Floor Mat. ( Mamas & Papas $39.99 )
A brightly patterned floor mat that is big enough for twins to share. It’s 55 inches by 33 inches with a reversible waterproof red side that can be used out of doors and has some texture that will keep it from sliding around indoors. The topside is cotton with bold graphic squares, each with a happy pattern. Stripes, dots, and graphics of bird, tree, snail, butterfly with liftable wings, a hidden squeaker in the apple graphic, and more. One square at the far end has a mirror for baby to discover and there are loops for attaching toys. Gold Award 2013

It seems that, in every generation, we are told to do things with our babies, and then we are told not to do things with our babies and vice-versa. That is why this Grandma recommends not giving advice to the mothers of our grandchildren on how it was done then. After all, the one change I love is that a newborn cannot be spoiled by holding. It has given me hours of joy holding all the newborn grandchildren and a love of HGTV at all hours of the day and night.

Published June 6, 2013, at NY Times, the author, Nicholas Bakalar, reminds us:

Putting infants to sleep on their backs, recommended since the early 1990s, has helped reduce the prevalence of sudden infant death syndrome. But because of concerns that the practice might cause delays in motor development – as measured by the age at which babies roll over – parents were encouraged to give their infants “tummy time” when awake to help build upper-body strength.

He now tells us of a new study, published May 2013 in the Journal of Early Human Development, that suggests that tummy time may be irrelevant:

Canadian researchers compared 1,114 infants born from 1990 to 1992, just before the “back to sleep” campaign began, with 351 infants born 20 years later. They found no difference between the two groups in the age at which prone to supine or supine to prone rolling began, or in the order in which those behaviors appeared.

I always wonder why studies give us half information, as this one does:

They were not able to measure the effect of “tummy time,” but they note that it is not known how many parents consistently use the procedure and that, anecdotally, most who do find it difficult to keep their babies on their bellies for any length of time.

Whether tummy time helps or not, said the lead author, Johanna Darrah, a pediatric physical therapist at the University of Alberta, “the back to sleep campaign has not adversely affected motor development. Motor development happens.”

Okay. Now I understand. It comes back to this Grandma’s mantra. Nothing matters. Our precious grandchildren will do everything by the time they walk down the aisle. They will roll over and have motor development by the time they walk down the aisle as well! I must say they will have upper body strength when they walk down the aisle too. But the extent of that will depend on exercise, not as infants, but when they are adults!

However, I say we should still buy tummy time toys for our littlest grandchildren. After all, we need anything we can do to give the parents of our grandchildren a few minutes of free time with infants and anything that could possibly keep infants occupied for a few minutes will bring all.




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