Tummy +Time = Learning
Kimberly Gipson (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter
“Oh great, I’ve overslept again!” This has been my “good morning statement,” lately as I rush to get up and get ready; in order to make it to work before the time clock hits the 7-minute mark, branding me as “late again!” I whisk my little one from her crib, greet her with a quick peck to wish her good morning; and, while still in her multipurpose pajamas, place her ever so gently into her car seat and hand her a bottle; knowing she can’t quite hold it yet.
I toss us in the car and pray for every red light to turn green! I reach my first destination and race through the doors of the daycare without noticing the other screaming children. I sign my child in and hurry down the hall as though the teacher will put a dreaded “T” for tardy by her name! As I enter the room, a sea of young infants are strapped in car seats, bouncy chairs and swings. Some of them are crying, while others look dazed and bewildered. I look into my sweet baby girl’s eyes and see that same look and think, “Oh good, it must be normal for babies to look like this early in the morning.” Leaving her in her car seat with her bottle, I scribble some instructions on the report sheet and tack it to the board. Off I go to my final destination; work!
For many of us, our days are just like this; jam-packed with tasks and errands before the work day even begins. We are a “fix-it quick” generation! Our intentions are good; however, the outcomes leave us lacking physically, emotionally, cognitively, creatively, and spiritually. We fix-it when conflicts arise between our children, because we don’t have time for our children to argue over such things as toys. We fix-it when our children are bored and don’t know what to play because we don’t have time to share 10 ways to play outdoors with the abundance of natural objects we can find. Even with our infants we fix-it to keep them from becoming upset because we don’t have time for the crying. Now, don’t take this wrong; as parents and caregivers it is our natural instinct to want to fix-it, and we should… to an extent. Next to valuing the safety and security of our children, whom we love so dearly, what is the reason we want to fix-it? Time! Goodness, we rush to and from one event or another throughout our day. We must do this and pick up that. We must go here and then go there, and sometimes we run just about everywhere! Sound like a Dr. Seuss story?
Yet, on any given day, we miss the opportunity to teach our children so many things like empathy, how to have healthy relationships, or even master simple self-help skills such as reaching, grasping, crawling, and walking. I know what you are thinking right now… “Have you seen my schedule?” “I make it a point to have a little snuggle time with my baby before I prepare for the next day, so… how can I do this? Isn’t that what they are supposed to do at the day care?”
The answer is yes and no! Infants learn in any environment; however, it is when babies are on their tummies that they learn so much more from the world around them! Research shares that when young infants have the opportunity for tummy time; it significantly fosters the development of small and large motor skills, supports head and neck muscles, and strengthens trunk control. In turn, these skills are essential in reaching developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting alone, pulling-up, and walking.
As parents and caregivers, we need to incorporate tummy time into our infant’s schedule; this includes at home and in the day care. Parents, we can spend just a few minutes tummy-to-tummy with our babies as we read a story, or use a simple lap soothe before bed time. Professionals need to offer infants opportunity for tummy times throughout the day, as well. Placing an infant on their tummy and providing them a simple toy to see and reach for, offers so much excitement! We need to be mindful that when we include such strategies as tummy minute or tummy-to-tummy time, we are helping strengthen muscles and nurture skills needed later in life. Does school readiness ring a bell?
Individuals learn by applying knowledge gained from life’s experiences; children are individuals, too! In order to grow, we must offer opportunities throughout the child’s day for them to apply their new knowledge to new experiences. Think of it this way; when we keep children in swings, bouncy chairs, car-seats, and high chairs, are we not strengthening their skill of becoming couch potatoes? Just a thought...
For more information on simple tummy time techniques, visit www.Pathways.org.
Kimberly Gipson is North Anchor for the University of Kentucky, in the Quality Enhancement Initiative.