Mothers and caregivers have been wearing their babies as a matter of convenience and bonding for centuries. It may sound like a modern phenomenon, but it is really an ancient practice that has been rediscovered with newer parenting philosophies such as attachment parenting. That’s because modern parents have been learning that baby wearing creates stronger parent-child bonds, keeps babies calmer, and allows parents to accomplish tasks hands free. It's just a few of the many benefits of baby wearing.
Baby Wearing and Tummy Time
One often overlooked benefit is vertical tummy time. Tummy time is when a baby is placed on their stomach while the baby is awake, and an adult is keeping a careful eye on them. It is important because it helps prevent flat areas on the back of the baby’s head. It also helps strengthen shoulder and neck muscles which is necessary when the baby starts to sit up, crawl, and walk. Another benefit is that it helps improve a baby’s motor skills that use muscles to complete a task.
Unfortunately, many babies don’t enjoy tummy time and even cry when parents put them on a mat for as little as three to five minutes. Various parenting advice articles speak about different ways to incorporate tummy time into your baby’s schedule and offer advice on how to make it more enjoyable.
Vertical Tummy Time Explained
When someone mentions tummy time, we automatically think of a play toy or mat where the baby is carefully placed on their belly. Vertical tummy time is when the baby is upright, such as when in a baby carrier. This version has many of the same benefits as laying down, and babies often prefer it more.
Sarah Kreditor Davis, MS OTR/L at Eat.Play.Move shares that, “Wearing your baby in a vertical tummy time position helps newborns develop their head, neck and shoulder muscles to eventually push themselves up to sitting, crawling and then walking when on the floor. It is also a great way to maintain your baby's round head shape.”
The additional benefits to vertical tummy time focus on the fact that you are wearing your baby. This allows your baby to be close to you and your face. “When a newborn is born, they can only see 8-12 inches away so wearing your baby allows them to clearly see your face. As they grow and develop, they will become interested in faces (typically around 2 months old),” she explains.
Additional Benefits of Vertical Tummy Time
During the pandemic, babies were not as exposed to as many people speaking to them. Also, many adults were wearing masks. The result was that babies were not as exposed to natural speech development. Davis says that vertical tummy time helps with that too. “Wearing your baby allows them to be close to your face, watching all of your facial expressions as you interact with them and others around you enhancing your baby's cognition and interest in faces.”