As a new mom, tummy time is practically shoved down your throat. From your pediatrician to articles in parenting magazines and social media, it's ingrained in your mind as a new parent, your baby must not spend all of their time on their backs, tummy time is imperative.
And guess what, they're right. But, here's a secret that you might not know . . . tummy time is important for all kids, even adults.
Why? You might ask.
As a baby, tummy time is to decrease the risk of your baby having a flat head from being on their back all the time, to encourage reaching and to increase muscle strengthening in the shoulders and arms. Another huge benefit of tummy time, and this is why it's important for all of us, is the development of core strength.
Core strength is crucial to your child's development. If your child is struggle with fine motor skills, there's a good chance they haven't properly developed their core muscles yet.
Trouble with handwriting, sitting still, balancing on one leg or climbing on equipment on the playground . . . these are all things that could be directly related to a weak core.
Here are some ideas for encouraging tummy time for children of all ages:
1) As a baby, get down on their level and play with them. Put a mirror in front of their face, babies love looking at themselves. Put their toys just out of their reach to encourage them to reach for them.
2) During the toddler years, pick their favorite game and play it while laying on your stomach. Build obstacle courses and tunnels where they have to crawl on all fours.
3) For the preschool age, teaching them yoga is an incredible way to strengthen their core. Reading a book? Read it while both of you are laying on your stomach - you're guaranteed to get a core workout as well! Invest in a swing for your backyard that requires them to sit up while swinging. Eventually, as they get older, they can graduate to standing while swinging, another huge core muscle builder.
4) For elementary school kids, encourage them to read or work on homework while propped up on their elbows. During their limited amount of screen team, have them watch propped up on their forearms.
Learning to swim is also an incredible way to strengthen your child's core, no matter what age you start.
If you suspect your child's weak core muscles are getting in the way of their fine motor skills, give us a call at 817-386-5500, one of our occupational therapists can help.