Tummy time

Early movement develops minds



Developmental movement and touch, along with secure relationship, help a child to settle into his body, to feel support and to trust others. The movements that babies do during natural birth, while breastfeeding, in tummy time, rolling and crawling are all essential contributors to a secure sense of self.

Developmental movements organize and structure the brain for cognition, attention asset  (vs. attention deficit) and emotional regulation, the ability to modulate between calm and excited states. The earliest learning takes place through movement explorations. Baby’s natural movements also provide a baseline of core strength and good coordination. Baby’s most complex senses, vision and hearing, are also organized by doing the same movements.

Tummy time for play from the beginning

During tummy time baby builds her earliest measuring skills. Moving her head up and down, bopping herself with her hand and turning in response to voices, baby gradually builds a map of her visual and auditory fields. While on her tummy, baby’s field of sensory experience matches her field of action – both small. This creates a properly matched learning environment of sensory-motor balance. Over time, baby comes up to rock back and forth on hands and knees, developing near to far vision. School age children need this visual organization for switching between blackboard and their desk work.

As well, tummy time is the baseline for rolling, creeping and crawling. Many school age children with learning challenges skipped these early movements.

Your baby feels himself moving and bonds with you and the earth as sources of support in tummy time. These sensory movement experiences are essential in forming the child’s secure sense of self.

Families can begin tummy time for play on the very first day. Newborns can be placed on mom or dad’s chest, either skin-to-skin or clothed. Every day parents can extend the length of tummy time for play.

Challenges in tummy time

Many babies who have not spent much time on their tummy may fuss or even cry when placed there. A baby may experience vestibular disorientation if he hasn’t spent time on his tummy. Vestibular disorientation can lead to anxiety, hyperactivity and many behavior problems, as the child does not have a secure sense of self and of support. Distress in tummy time can be resolved through simple handling practices and daily play activities.

School readiness

Children who don’t crawl have more problems with reading and school work. Effective remedial programs for school children incorporate developmental movements in games that organize the body and brain for learning readiness.

Many reading readiness programs focus on reading books to babies. While this creates a pleasurable association and familiarity with books, the actual brain and eye functions necessary for reading and writing are developed first through movement. The natural movements of the first year establish the ABCs of pre-academic skills: attention, balance and coordination.

Learning challenges

Many babies do not have sufficient movement opportunities on their tummies and on the floor to fully organize and develop their brains for easy function. Our brains are wizards of adaptability, but compensation patterns can eat up neural energy. The good news is that brains are malleable through out life, and can learn to function optimally through movement at any age.


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