At one of my daughter's earliest doctor appointments, her pediatrician told me to keep her on her belly for tummy time whenever she was awake. I was in disbelief as my tot hated being on her stomach. The doc said it was important for her development and that the babe would eventually get used to it and may even enjoy it.

I'm glad we listened to her and powered through the initial days of tummy-time agony. The American Physical Therapy Association recently issued a warning telling parents that time spent on the stomach is not only beneficial for the skull's formation, but it also allows the baby's neck and shoulder muscles to develop in a timely manner. Physical therapist Colleen Coulter-O'Berry advises parents:

Increasing the amount of time your baby lies on his or her tummy promotes muscle development in the neck and shoulders; helps prevent tight neck muscles, and the development of flat areas on the back of the baby's head; and helps build the muscles baby needs to roll, sit, and crawl. . . Don't be afraid to put your baby on their tummy for short periods of time while they are awake. After a nap, diaper change or feeding, roll the baby onto his or her stomach, and encourage the infant to find, focus, and follow your face or a toy with their eyes looking up.

Did you practice tummy time with your tot?
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