According to Dr. Bonnie Soto, instead of having strict tummy time, parents could help their children with muscle strengthening in different ways.
You must have heard people saying that tummy time is very important for babies. New moms and dads consider it a significant part of parenting. However, a pediatrician and TikTok user @milestonemama believes that it doesn't need to be hyped up so much that parents feel too pressured to do tummy time for their kids for extended hours. Dr. Bonnie Soto first speaks about an incident in which an American mom gave birth to her kids in France and was told that tummy time is "not a thing" in the country. “
Okay, have you seen that video by now of the mom who had two babies in France and she brought up tummy time to the pediatricians there and they were like, ‘No, no, no, no, we don't do that? Don't put your baby in positions that they can't get into on their own. Tummy time is not a thing'?" she asks.
Soto goes on to explain that tummy time is given too much importance in the US and it is also because it's important but not in the way people understand it. She starts to talk about the idea behind tummy time and how it gained popularity due to the "Back to Sleep" campaign. “Babies were getting lots of short little bouts of tummy time throughout the day when they were laid down to sleep. There were babies sleeping on their bellies. They'd wake up, press up and look around for a hot second, and people would move on,” she says.
So when parents were told that they cannot put their babies on their bellies, parents took that also way too seriously and began placing kids on swings, bounce chairs, playpens, etc. “People were kind of like overcompensating, overreacting there too and not placing them on their bellies for play either, probably out of fear,” she states. “This kind of like uptick to the amount of time that babies were spending in containers because they could keep them on their backs there. So, we saw a huge increase in torticollis and plagiocephaly."
Soon, parents were advised by pediatricians with guidelines on how long a child needed to have tummy time. “I think parents get really stressed out about it,” Soto says in the video, adding: “Then it becomes this big to-do, like, ‘Oh my god — I have to fit tummy time in,’ and parents are being told things like your baby has to do an hour of tummy time a day. Oh my gosh, that's crazy.”
According to Soto, instead of having strict tummy time, parents could help their children with muscle strengthening in different ways. “Roll into tummy time after a diaper change for a few minutes and you can sit and chit-chat with them. Your baby needs to like snuggle you on your chest and take a nap, take a contact nap, get in the baby carrier, or just lay there and chit-chat in your face as you're leaning back. Those are like all part of a tummy time program,” she says.
“Your baby needs free, unrestricted movement,” she adds, “They need connection with you. You just holding your baby, snuggling them, moving them around in different positions is good for their development.”
Her response to French pediatricians and their thoughts is that “babies are entirely dependent on us for their positioning,” she emphasizes. “So, this whole idea that we shouldn't be putting them in positions that they can't get into themselves... they can't get into any positions by themselves. So, that's baloney,” she concludes.
The video is captioned, "I’ve been trying to find a moment to talk about this all week. So, many differences in how we raise children that affect this conversation." Many people found Soto's views really helpful. @shopsimplygeorgia commented, "My daughter only napped on me for a long time. I was so stressed about getting in tummy time, I wish someone had told me that was tummy time!" @andreaweis05 expressed, "This makes so much sense! So I was born in 1986 and when I had my baby and told my mom about tummy time she was like what?!" @smg4561 shared, "Forever grateful that I found you when I did and your info about babywearing and contact naps counting as tummy time!"
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