Raising North Dakota: Tummy Time

Parents want what’s best for their kids, and sometimes that means making them do things they don’t want to do, like tummy time.
But your baby will thank you later.
 
In this week’s Raising North Dakota, Alysia Huck explains why tummy time is crucial, and what can result by not encouraging it.
 
“What is that? Good job, yay!”
Tummy time…not all babies like it.
In fact, many despise it, but it’s a crucial tool in preventing a common disorder seen in babies.
It’s called plagiocephaly, and more frequently referred to as flat head syndrome.
 
“Plagio or flat head is a flattening of the skull on one side,” said Kristy Johnson, physical therapy student, University of Mary. “So when babies spend a lot of time with their head turned, if they have tight neck muscles or if they’re in a rock and play where they can’t move their head around a lot. They get pressure on one point of the skull which can actually change the shape of the skull because baby’s heads are really moldable.”
 
So what does this mean for baby?
University of Mary Physical Therapy student Kristy Johnson says while it is a physical deformity that rarely leads to serious complications, it can impact a child’s life, even into adulthood.
 
“When you think about later on in life when your child is going to ride a bike or son is going to play football, all of that can affect them later in life to fitting the helmets to their heads or that kind of thing,” said Johnson.
 
In collaboration with another student and faculty at the University of Mary, Johnson decided to educate local parents about this common disorder.
Now Johnson is a mom, so she knows how difficult it can be for most babies to work those muscles
.
“As a mom of an almost 1-year old, I know a lot of babies really hate tummy time because it’s a lot of work for them,” said Johnson. “They have big heads and don’t have the back muscles yet to pull that head off the ground, so it’s hard for parents when they know their baby doesn’t like it, when baby is screaming, when mom is stressed out anyways to just avoid tummy time and that’s really detrimental to later motor milestones.”
 
Swings, rock ‘n plays, exersaucers – all of these devices are fun for baby and convenient for mom and dad, but they can lead to another problem – Baby Container Syndrome.
While not an actual syndrome, the American Academy of Pediatrics says too much time in these devices can lead to problems such as plagiocephaly. 
 
“None of those things are bad in little amounts, but the point is not to keep baby in those things for long periods of time. It’s easy to put baby in the exersaucer because they love it, but it’s really limiting that amount of time,” said Johnson.
 
As first-time dad Zachary Blaszach learned, tummy time and limited use of devices start right from birth.
 
“That interaction with the baby and that brain development and the muscle development that the baby gains through tummy time, and just how early that can start, like right after birth,” said Zachary Blaszach, first-time dad. “I think that’s pretty amazing.”

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