Starting in the early 1990s, parents have been instructed to put their babies to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS. While this advice has saved thousands of babies’ lives, experts have noticed a fivefold increase in misshapen heads since then. While backsleeping is still advised, most babies are spending far too much time on their back and not enough time on their stomachs.
Anne Tullis and Sherri Gunn are IBCLC certified Lactation Consultants from Ogden Clinic Farmington and experts in the TummyTime Method™. Today they’re discussing the many health benefits of getting your baby comfortable on their stomach.
Why is “back time” becoming a problem?
“Over the first two months of life, babies spend an average of 700 hours in a container, whether it’s a car seat, and bouncer, a Rock ‘N Play, or a swing,” says Anne Tullis. Some problems associated with this are gas, irritability, colic, and developing flat spots on the back of their head.
“There’s too much pressure behind the head and neck. Babies need that extension of the spine to start developing the muscles in their neck and throat.” Sherri Gunn adds that too much back time could be a big reason why babies have trouble latching and breastfeeding.
How does tummy time help with breastfeeding?
“Tummy time, or placing babies on their stomachs for short periods of time, allows for stretching of baby’s spine and strengthening of their ‘latching’ muscles.” Says Sherri. There are over 15 muscles in baby’s throat and mouth that all work together to help them breastfeed properly.
“We see so many mothers who have trouble breastfeeding even though mom has great anatomy and the baby’s mouth appears capable. Practicing tummy time has worked wonders for these moms and newborns,” says Anne.
The benefits of tummy time are many:
- It helps with tongue strength and movement
- Optimizes reflexes
- Provides ventral surface weight bearing
- Improves gastric emptying and causes less reflux
- Helps digestive function
- Helps to get out gas and burping, and
- Supports a healthy nervous system
But babies hate tummy time!
“That’s the biggest complaint we hear!” says Anne. “Moms will say, ‘We tried it, baby hated it so we stopped doing it.’ While that’s unfortunate, it’s also understandable! Babies have an inherent fear of falling and going on your tummy can feel like falling,” she says. Other reasons babies don’t like tummy time could be tension in their neck and trunk or sensitivity to movement and sounds.
Don’t give up on the pursuit, get some help instead.
Anne and Sherri teach quarterly classes on the TummyTime™ method, a therapeutic way to help your baby become comfortable on their stomach. “A big part of this class takes place on the rug, face to face with your baby. You’re bonding with them, smiling, and creating a positive association,” Anne says. The TummyTime™ method is a five-part system that also includes follow-up care. TummyTime™ boasts thousands of successful outcomes and Anne and Sherri are the only two TummyTime™ certified professionals in Utah.
Check out Anne and Sherri’s next class on their website.
Who should consider a tummy time consultation?
Tummy time is vital for all babies and they should be introduced when they are newborns. Schedule a visit with Anne and Sherri if:
- Your baby fusses or cries consistently during tummy time
- Baby arches his or her back persistently
- Baby has a difficulty turning his or her head side to side
- Baby is unable to touch their face or mouth with a hand while in tummy time
- Baby spends less than 10 minutes per day doing tummy time
- Baby struggles to latch or properly breastfeed
Anne Tullis and Sherri Gunn the only two professional in Utah certified in the TummyTime Method™. They are former NICU nurses and board certified lactation consultants at Ogden Clinic Farmington. If you struggle with breastfeeding or tummy time, call their office at (801) 397-6080 to schedule an appointment.