Infant positioning and physical therapy
As new parents, we quickly figure out that our babies don’t come equipped with owner manuals. So when we hear about the importance of tummy time for newborns and young infants, it can be overwhelming to understand what this actually entails.
The problems with infant positioning
Because babies spend nine months in a fetal position, they aren’t born with sufficient control of their back muscles. Since the introduction of the Back to Sleep campaign in the mid 1990’s, infants will spend most of their time on their backs. While this did a wonderful job of decreasing the risk of SIDS, it has led to an increase in positional deformities and weakness in infants, because they don’t get sufficient time on their stomachs, which will help them develop their back muscles.
Why is proper positioning important?
When a baby spends excessive time on their backs, they are at risk of skull deformities. Either the back of their skull can flatten, or they might flatten the side of their skull if they prefer to keep their head turned to one side. If left untreated, these deformities can become permanent. In order to prevent this from happening, it is recommended that babies spend at least one hour supervised per day on their stomachs. This will help them develop their back muscles, and ultimately facilitate them learning to sit, stand, and walk.
What can I do to help my child?
If you continue to notice that your infant has a side preference, or you feel uncertain how to help your child engage the world while on their stomach, Brill Physical Therapy is here to help you. Our therapists are trained in the treatment of infant positioning and muscular tightness, and can help guide you to best help your child. Physical therapy will often consist of guided stretching, strengthening, and play.