Babies, like seeds, are little packages waiting for the right input so they can spring up and embrace their newly discovered world. How well they thrive depends upon the quality of the input they receive.
What’s the time I hear you say?
It’s tummy time!
As human beings are very complex, they need much more than a little water, sunlight and Mother Nature to help them thrive. Their nervous system development is in overdrive early in life, and one of the most important things we can do for our kids’ nervous systems is one of the most simple.
Brain development is entirely dependant upon input received. From very soon after we are born, lifting the head is number one on the agenda and for good reason. This head action provides enormous input as it stimulates nerve receptors. These nerves fire impulses into the brainstem, which is responsible for driving motor and cognitive development and learning.
Tummy time works the extensor (back) muscles that run along the spine. These muscles need to be strong to allow for development and progression onto sitting, crawling and eventually walking. A decrease in the amount of extensor tone will delay motor development and the associated milestones.
Plagiocephaly (mis-shapen head) has been linked with delayed milestones and extensor tone, and tummy time plays a big role in promoting good head shape.
When face-down on the floor, babies are exposed to a new range of tactile input to the face and body parts. Toys and floors with different fabrics and feels help to increase the stimulation into the nervous system.
As your baby learns to master tummy time they will gain more confidence and sense of achievement. This is not only helpful for the psychological effects but will also encourage further development as they strive to roll, reach, grasp and pull.
At the practice we sometimes hear mothers say “but my baby hates tummy time, they just cry”. This is one of the reasons it is essential to have your child checked as soon as possible after birth. Sometimes during the birth process babies undergo stress to their spine and cranial system and this can make it uncomfortable and sometimes impossible for them to move their head freely. No wonder baby cries during tummy time – it hurts!!
Chiropractors work to ensure proper movement of the spine and cranial bones so tummy time can then become an enjoyable part of their day.
It is important to note that it’s not only newborns who benefit from this type of input. In older babies and children, this can be achieved through “superboy/supergirl exercises” on a fit ball to increase the extensor tone and light up the brain in a positive way.
When you get the chance, pop your little one on their tummy. Increase the amount of time and frequency you do this as they begin to get stronger and more confident. For the older child we recommend starting superman/supergirl exercises with 10 minutes a day and to challenge them by holding the position for a longer period of time each time the have a go.
Good nervous system function is essential in children and these exercises are a simple and effective way to increase the input to the brain. Give your little seed the very best chance to grow and develop so they can spring into life.