Q : My daughter is a very responsible mother to a new baby girl. She follows all of her pediatrician’s recommendations, including “tummy time.” When I was a new mother, we were taught “Back to Sleep,” to avoid putting babies on their stomach. Is tummy time a good idea?
A : Thank you for your question. You are right, recommendations about what is best for babies do evolve over time, due to the collective experience of doctors and parents and the availability of new research.
In 1992, there was a growing awareness of a terrible condition called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There seemed to be an association between sleeping prone (on the stomach) and SIDS. Small infants who cannot lift their heads, roll themselves over or effectively call for help were at risk for suffocating in their soft bedding, blankets and toys.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that infants be placed supine (on their back) to sleep. This became known as the Back to Sleep campaign, which contributed to a 40% decrease in the incidence of SIDS in the U.S.