In the early 1990’s North America adopted the “back to sleep campaign” which encourages babies to sleep on their backs. Back to sleep was adopted because it reduced SIDS deaths by 50%! (CDC,NCHS). However due to the change babies lost about 12 hours per day of tummy time. As a result there has been an increased incidence of positional skull deformations (plagiocephaly/brachycephaly)(1), and an increased incidence of positional spinal deformations (idiopathic infantile scoliosis)(2). Back to sleep babies spend 225 fewer hours on their tummy by 6 months of age! (3). Back to sleep babies show: delayed motor development, delayed social development, delayed cognitive development, and delayed motor skill acquisition (4).
Early motor development changes an infant’s experience in the world and therefore enhances brain development. We are not debating the effectiveness of the back to sleep campaign in reducing SIDS deaths. We must work within it for the optimal health and well-being of our babies.
We must encourage TUMMY TIME! As chiropractors we suggest 1 minute per day at one-day old. And 1 hour per day (cumulative) at 3 months old. Read on below for alternatives if you baby is resisting tummy time.
3 Alternatives to Tummy time:
1) Front Carry: Hold baby facing away from you supporting him/her around their rib-cage. With their bottom tucked into your belly, tilt their trunk forward so it is parallel with the ground. This will encourage baby to look forward and strengthen muscles in the back of the neck and along the spine.
2) Baby on Shins: Lay on your back with your legs bent so that your shins are parallel to the ground. Lay the baby on your shins with their head hanging off your knees and holding onto their hands.
3) Baby on Lap: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and lay your baby across your legs with their head hanging off one side of your thigh. You can move a toy around to encourage them to look side to side and strengthen their neck muscles.
Signs that warrant a Chiropractic evaluation:
Remember every child develops differently. If between 6-7 months you notice to following you should consider an evaluation:
Both Dr. Becky and Dr. Sarah are moms and have experienced firsthand the benefits of chiropractic care for the pre and postnatal period for mom and baby as well as the growing infant/toddler. They take special interest in the treatment of pregnancy and pediatrics. They both offer complimentary 15min consultations. Call the clinic today if you have questions.
Dr. Rebecca Patterson B.A. (Hons.), D.C. Webster Certified
Dr. Sarah Chajka HBKin, D.C. Webster Certified
420 Main St E. Unit 102 &103
Milton Ontario L9T 1P9
1. "Plagiocephaly and related cranial deformities". Pediatric Views. Children's Hospital Boston. April 2010.
2. Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: can it be prevented? J Bone Joint Surg Br November 1983 vol. 65-B no. 5 612-617
3. Davis, B. E.; Moon, R. Y.; Sachs, H. C.; Ottolini, M. C. (1998). "Effects of Sleep Position on Infant Motor Development". Pediatrics 102 (5): 1135–40. doi:10.1542/peds.102.5.1135. PMID 9794945.
4.Majnemer, Annette; Barr, Ronald G (2005). "Influence of supine sleep positioning on early motor milestone acquisition". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 47 (6): 370–6; discussion 364.