Tummy Time & Repositioning

What is tummy time?

Tummy time is the time your baby spends on his or her tummy during the day whilst awake.
Why is tummy time important?
Since the change in the sleeping advice to parents in the early 1990s in positioning babies on their backs rather than their fronts to sleep, there has been a significant reduction in the number of sudden infant deaths (SIDS).
During this time, the use of car seats and travel systems has also increased, with babies spending more time in them. These factors all mean that babies are spending more and more time on their backs, which has led to an increase in cases of deformational plagiocephaly- sometimes known as “flat head syndrome”.
Deformational plagiocephaly is a common condition and occurs when external force causes a baby’s head to take on an abnormal shape. It is characterised by flattening to either the side or the back of the head. Increasing tummy time is a great way of taking the pressure off any flattened areas. It also helps to build strong neck muscles, which will help your baby to learn to roll, sit and crawl as they grow.

Following these easy steps and increasing tummy time can reduce the chance of deformational plagiocephaly and help treat milder cases of the condition:

  • Have supervised play time with your baby on his or her tummy. You can use a cushion or rolled towel under the chest and arms of the baby, or a tummy time mat. You should aim to do this for 30 to 60 minutes a day - a good way to remember is to have some tummy time after each nappy change.
  • Limit time in baby carriers such as car seats and bouncy chairs.
  • Alternate the side that you hold your baby when feeding.
  • As soon as they have some head control, encourage your baby to play on their tummy when awake.
  • Carry your baby in different positions and use a sling or baby carrier.
  • If your baby always faces to one side of the cot try to alternate the end of the bed that they sleep. To encourage this, you can position a mobile or move the light to their least favourite side.
  • If you are concerned about head shape or if your baby prefers to look in one direction, see your GP.

I’ve tried tummy time and think my baby’s head is still not right?

In most cases of deformational plagiocephaly, the head shape will improve as your baby grows, when external forces are reduced through repositioning techniques and reduced time in car seats or bouncy chairs. However, in some cases where moderate to severe plagiocephaly exists, correction may require treatment with a STARband™ helmet.

If you feel at all concerned about your baby’s head shape then call us to arrange a free consultation. One of our specialist orthotists will conduct a thorough evaluation, talk to you about your baby’s history and discuss any necessary treatment programme.