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Tummy Time: September 20, 2011

“They’re fraternal twins, Benjamin Moss and Haley Moss and they’re a little bit over 5 weeks old.”

New mom Lisa Moss wants to do right by her babies.

“We’ve never had children before, so this is our first. We really tried to read about what to do as well as consulted with a pediatrician because we were kind of clueless.”

Mindful of the ‘back to sleep’ campaign, meant to lower the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Lisa makes sure her babies are sleeping on their back, but pediatricians learned there’s a down side to that.

“It’s ok, we’ve stopped having as much sudden infant death but now we’re having all these babies with flatness to their skull,” says Dr. Eric Jones, a  pediatrician on the medical staff of The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

And it’s not just flat heads that have doctors worried, without time on their tummies; babies were not developing proper stomach muscles.

“The most important ones that it affects are your core truncal muscles, most of the times the back muscles are the ones that are weakest for babies,” says Dr. Jones.

Doctors felt it was time to turn over a new leaf, encouraging parents to give their baby tummy time, it acts as baby boot camp.

“Just getting them on their belly means they push up with their hands and raise up their upper body so they’re strengthening up the lower back. They have to be able to use those muscles to sit, stand, walk, everything,” says Dr. Jones.

Parents should start their newborns gradually working up from ten seconds to a talk of an hour a day, by three months. Not sleeping but playing under supervision.

“You can kind of rotate the kind of things that they’re able to look at and a lot of those activity mats will have things that babies can pat that make noise and those kind of things to keep them occupied,” says Dr. Jones.

The Moss twins are accustomed to their routines now.

“I’ll put them on their side and I have nap nannies and things like that, just to kind of ensure that they don’t get the flat head,” says Lisa.

She finds tummy time is time well spent.