There are important cognitive and physical skills that are developed through tummy time. Mothers that don’t give their babies adequate tummy time may notice delays such as learning to crawl properly. These delays can impact the child’s learning into their school-aged years. Let’s take a look at some of the things that develop during tummy time and how they can impact the child’s learning in school.
Core Muscle Strength – When a baby is on their tummy, their natural response is to raise their head. They also lift their arms and legs. This strengthens the neck and core muscles that are important for alertness and attention. Slumped posture, constant heads resting on desks or hands for support, and poor coordination could all result from low core strength.
Visual Tracking – Weak core muscles cause head bobbing because the child doesn’t have the strength to hold their head steady. Since they aren’t able to focus quickly, it causes them to see blurred images. When the core muscles strengthen, it decreases head bobbing and allows the child’s visual field to even out and be more clear. This allows the eyes and neck to start working together to locate and track objects. Good visual tracking is very important to the development of reading skills.
Hand-eye-coordination – The hands are one of the things that the child first learns to locate. Their eyes will track the movements of their hands as they learn what their hands can do. This is the beginning of hand-eye-coordination, which is crucial for handwriting and many other tasks like turning the pages of a book or playing sports.
Vestibular System – This is the system that is responsible for a sense of balance and coordination. When the child is on their tummy, they are able to lift their head, legs, and arms to resist the pull of gravity and activate the vestibular system. If a child’s system does not develop properly then they could struggle with coordination and self-regulation, which could lead to a number of problems including behavioral problems and attention span issues.
So the question is, what do you do? For infants, make sure you give them plenty of tummy time. This doesn’t just mean on the floor. You may lay them on their stomach across your lap, or lay them on your chest as you lie down. For children that are older and struggle with learning to crawl due to a lack of tummy time, you can play games with them to encourage crawling. Some ideas of activities you could try would be crawling tag, obstacle courses, or pretending to be animals that walk on all fours. Make your child’s imagination work for you.
If those types of activities do not seem to be working, it may be time to call a vision therapist. A vision therapist can offer treatment that can help to improve some of these issues and get your child onto a better path for their school-aged years.