The Benefits of Tummy Time and Crawling
Why is Tummy Time Important?
Tummy time strengthens the muscles of the core, back, and neck that are required for rolling, sitting up, and crawling. Rolling, sitting, and crawling are all important developmental skills that allow children the ability to explore and move about in their environment. Tummy time is also important for visual exploration. When babies lay on their stomach, they are able to lift their heads to see more of their environment at eye level compared to what they are able to see when lying on their back. Children may not like tummy time initially due to the new muscles being challenged, but it is important for your child to build up and improve tolerance to tummy time for the reasons stated above. Here are some tips to improve your child’s tolerance to participating in tummy time:
-Try using support under the baby’s chest to assist in lifting the head (Ex: rolled-up towel, Boppy pillow, or over caregiver’s legs)
-Support your baby on your chest and encourage him to lift his head up to look up at your face
-Use motivating toys with lights, sounds, and/or mirrors to help distract your child while playing on his/her tummy
Why is Crawling Important?
Crawling is an important first way for a child to move about his/her environment before learning to walk. This skill typically occurs between 8 and 10 months of life. Crawling promotes strengthening through the head, neck, arm, back, and leg muscles. In addition to this, when your child puts weight through his/her hands, this improves strength and stability through the shoulders that will be important for the development of future gross and fine motor skills. Crawling also helps children learn how to balance as the child has to weight shift the body while maintaining balance in order to move forward. The development of coordination is also an important outcome of learning to crawl. As the child moves forward in the reciprocal pattern of right knee with left hand followed by left knee with right hand, the child is improving his/her coordination and ability for the right and left sides of the brain to work together to complete a task. This right-left coordination of the body is the foundation for walking, running, jumping jacks and many other skills. Lastly, just like tummy time, visual exploration is also developing as a child learns to crawl. Children will look for toys/objects at a further distance and then coordinate the crawling movement to move to get the toy/object.