It is recommended that baby's are put to sleep on their backs to reduce the chance of SIDS, but often what this means is that baby's spend a lot of time on their backs (bed, car, pram, floor etc.), which can cause a "flat spot" (plagiocephaly).
The skull bone is made up of different movable plates joined by sutures. Until all the "soft spots" called fontanelles are closed which is around 18-24 months, movement occurs in order to accomodate the growing head. It's extremely important that the baby has the opportunity to move regularly in order to prevent these "flat spots" developing as they are not just affecting the aesthetics of the head but also believed to affect brain development.
Tummy time is one important way to prevent "flat spots" and also assist development of head, neck and shoulder muscles. Extension of the thoracic spine (mid back) is known to increase the release of endorphins (happy hormones) and is an important precursor to crawling (which is essential for gross motor development as well as left and right brain integration).
By the time your baby is 3-4 months old it is recommended they be doing up to 20 minutes on their tummy per day. Start slowly from around 3-4 weeks placing your baby on their tummy for 20-30 seconds at each nappy change and build up from there. If your child doesn't like tummy time or seems to be in pain during tummy time then take them to see a paediatric chiropractor or physiotherapist for a check up. Similarly if your child is bum shuffling, has delayed crawling or is walking on their tippy toes take them for a check up as it could be affecting their long term development. Many parents are told that they will "grow out of it"? but not only are the development of important neural pathways being affected but they could also be causing long term damage from the faulty movement patterns.
At Health Space many of our chiropractors have done extensive training in assessing and treating kids so ask us for a recommendation!
Written by Kate Wood