Baby crawling

Upstate researchers tracking infant development and ‘tummy time’

For the next 18 months, researchers from Upstate Medical University will be following a group of infants and tracking their development in order to provide families with guidelines for appropriate amounts of tummy time activity.

Tummy time, the practice of deliberately placing an infant on its stomach for the purpose of developing physical strength, is considered an important tool for proper development.

Erin Wentz, PT, PhD, PCS, is tracking participants in an ongoing study to shed light on this subject. “Tummy time helps babies develop the trunk strength that will be needed for them to sit and eventually stand and walk,” said Wentz, principal investigator of the study and associate professor of physical therapy in Upstate’s College of Health Professions. “We also know that babies who have daily tummy time have more timely motor skill development. We want to be able to provide parents with guidelines and goals for this important activity.”

Pediatricians may advise new parents to engage their infant in daily tummy time, but little research has been done to determine the proper amount of time a baby should spend on tummy time, and how long into their lives tummy time should continue to be practiced.

Some of the 35 participants in the Upstate study will engage in more daily tummy time, and others in less, but all infants will be exposed to the benefits of tummy time. Families try to accumulate their prescribed tummy time minutes over the course of the day and keep a daily log of minutes performed until the time at which their baby independently transitions in and out of sitting. Participants are visited in their homes one time per month for 12 months in order to measure their height, weight and motor development, and then again at 15 and 18 months of age. The monthly visit lasts about 30 minutes. Results will allow infant practitioners to provide families with specific tummy time recommendations.

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