Next Step Therapy Blog: Back to Sleep/Belly to Play

Tracy 1Tracy Cowles, CEO and owner of Next Step Therapy, submitted the following article – Back to Sleep/Belly to Play, Part 1.

Before we go any further – let me say one thing: The safest position for your baby to sleep is on their back. However when a baby is awake and in a “playful” mood the best position for them to be is on their belly.

There has been such education regarding SIDS and the need for children to sleep on their back (which is great), parents have become scared to ever put their babies on their bellies and this is causing some problems.

Babies need to be on their bellies for various reasons and one of them is the prevention of torticollis(tightening of the neck muscles on one side while losing the ability to look in the opposite direction) and plagiocephaly (developing a flat spot on the skull from always laying in one position). Today we’ll talk about plagiocephaly and you can come back next time to learn more about torticollis!

Another contributor to these conditions is the fact that we have so many “seats” available for babies these days that sometimes they never even touch the floor once in a day! We have car seats, bouncers, and swings just to name a few. A baby’s skull is pliable until they are between 12-18 months so just take a minute to think about that pliable skull ALWAYS laying next to something – the floor, the back of any of the above mentioned seats. What do you think will happen? The head will become flat in that spot that is always laying against something.

Now, before you get scared and start to panic let me tell you that these conditions are very preventable! And it doesn’t even take a ton of effort on your (the parent’s) part. The easiest and best way to prevent a flat spot on the baby’s head is to PUT YOUR BABY ON THEIR BELLY WHEN THEY ARE AWAKE.

Do they need to spend every waking moment on their belly? No. Do they need to spend at least SOME time on their belly EVERY DAY? Most definitely. Pick a time when they are most awake and alert so that you can really work on head control, practicing to lift their head from the floor when they are on their belly. Each time you put them on their belly when they are too young yet to lift the head, make sure to have them rest their head looking each way for a short time.

Use rattles or musical toys to try and get their attention (when trying to get them to lift and look). Prop their elbows under them to help them get a little lift. All of these easy ideas will help your baby maintain a beautiful/round head!


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