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As a new parent, you’ve probably heard of “tummy time” – the time that infants spend on their stomachs to help them develop the muscles they need to crawl, roll over, and sit up. Tummy time is essential for optimal infant development, both physically and cognitively. Tummy time offers an opportunity for babies to explore their world and push their comfort zone – simply put, it’s exercise for babies! But did you know that babywearing counts as tummy time, too? It’s true – by wearing your baby in a carrier or sling, you’re helping them strengthen their core muscles and develop their motor skills.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the benefits of babywearing as tummy time, how to safely and effectively wear your baby, and some helpful tips for incorporating both activities into your daily routine.
What is tummy time, and why is it important?
Tummy time is simply the time that babies spend lying on their stomachs while they’re awake and supervised. It’s important because it helps babies develop the muscles they need to reach developmental milestones like crawling, rolling over, and sitting up. When babies spend too much time on their backs (like in cribs or car seats), they can develop flat spots on their heads and/or delays in motor development. Tummy time is the perfect way to help babies develop their gross motor skills while also inviting them to engage in their surroundings, like reaching for nearby toys on a plat mat.
What are the benefits of babywearing as tummy time?
Babywearing can offer many of the same benefits as tummy time. Pediatricians recommend 2-3 tummy time sessions per day. This might start out as only a minute or two in the first days after birth, working up to 15-30 total daily minutes of tummy time by two months of age. That’s why it’s so helpful that babywearing counts as tummy time, too! Here’s why:
- Strengthening core muscles: When your baby is worn in a carrier or sling, they engage their core muscles in order to stay upright and balanced. This is similar to the core muscles strengthening that happens during tummy time.
- Developing motor skills: By being positioned upright in a carrier or sling, your baby is able to practice head and neck control, a crucial skill for developmental milestones down the road.
- Reducing flat head syndrome: Babywearing can help reduce the amount of time your baby spends lying on their back in a crib, car seat, or bouncer, which can help prevent flat spots from forming on their skull.
- Bonding with caregivers: When you wear your baby, you’re able to offer them close physical contact and eye contact, which can help foster a strong parent-child bond. This is not just wonderful for babies, but a great way for new parents to develop their confidence, too.
- Cognitive development: Babywearing allows your little one to take in their world from a new vantage point. Research suggests that babywearing also contributes to a baby’s brain development.
How do I safely and effectively wear my baby?
Babywearing is safe when done with a few key safety tips in place. We can use the acronym “TICKS” to remember these safe babywearing tips.
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off chest
Additional safe babywearing tips include:
- Use a carrier or sling that’s an appropriate fit for your baby’s age and size.
- Make sure your baby is positioned in an ergonomic “M” position, with their knees higher than their hips, and with a natural curve in their spine.
- Always check your carrier or sling for signs of wear or damage before using it.
- Avoid any activities that could be dangerous for your baby while they’re in a carrier or sling – like cooking over an open flame, riding a bike, or climbing a ladder.
How can I incorporate babywearing into my daily routine?
There’s a learning curve to babywearing, but once you get the hang out it, life gets so much easier. Babywearing allows you to soothe your baby while staying hands-free. You’re no longer stuck bouncing or rocking your baby – you can get back into your life, with your little one along for the ride.
Here are some ways to try to incorporate babywearing into your daily routine:
- Wear your baby while tackling simple household chores, like washing dishes or folding laundry.
- Wear your baby while on a walk around your neighborhood. Work your way up to a family hike!
- Wear your baby while you’re out running errands, like grocery shopping. Not only might this keep your baby happier than if they’re sitting in the shopping cart, but it can help protect them from germs and viruses.
- Use a carrier to keep your baby close during family outings like picnics or trips to the beach. Worried about how your stroller will handle beach sand? Babywearing eliminates that variable and lets you go places a stroller can’t.
Wear that baby!
Babywearing can be a valuable addition to you and your baby’s daily routine, offering many of the same benefits as tummy time. Since babywearing counts as tummy time, you can By keeping your baby close and engaged, you can help them develop the physical muscles and cognitive skills they need to thrive. With the right carrier or sling, a comfortable fit, and a focus on safety, you can incorporate babywearing into your daily routine and enjoy those precious bonding moments with your little one.