Time" Key to Infant Development
By Kathryn N. Oriel, PT, EdD
the initiation of the "Back to Sleep Campaign" parents
have been advised to place their infants on their backs to sleep.
This sleep position has been shown to decrease the incidence of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
of a fear of SIDS, many parents fail to place their infant on their
stomach during supervised awake time. Failure to place an infant
on their stomach during awake time, along with the prolonged time
infants are spending in things like car seats and infant swings,
may be resulting in negative consequences, including: delayed development
and a flattening of the back of the head.
delayed gross motor milestones commonly seen in infants sleeping
on their backs include holding the head up, crawling and pulling
to stand. These gross motor skills all require the use of core muscle
strength that an infant develops while playing on their stomach.
The delayed development of these important skills may prevent an
infant from exploring their environment.
positioning on the back may also lead to a flattening of the posterior
aspect of the head, often referred to as positional plagiocephaly.
This flattening occurs due to an increase in pressure on one area
of the head. If positional plagiocephaly is not identified and managed
early, an infant may require the use of an orthotic device to correct
the head position.
negative consequences can, however, be prevented by placing infants
on their stomach to play. This play time, often referred to as "tummy
time", should be supervised. "Tummy time" will provide
an infant with the opportunity to strengthen the muscles necessary
for skills such as holding the head up and crawling.
an infant on their back to sleep is crucial in the prevention of
SIDS. Infants must, however, be placed on their stomach during supervised
awake time. This will allow an infant to develop the skills necessary
for optimal development.
N. Oriel, PT, EdD is an Assistant Professor at the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers - The Graduate
School Camden. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org