In one of the previous posts the link was made between tummy time and the development of a strong connection between the eyes and the vestibular system. The eyes and vestibular system have a connection that allows our eyes to automatically adjust to movement. This process takes time and grows throughout the development years.
Tummy time and hand development
Tummy time is also very important in the development of the hands, fingers, and arms. When an infant is place on the belly he will begin to lift his head off the surface. An infant lifts his head to approximately 45 degrees at age two to three months and to approximately 90 degrees at age four months. As the head is lifted farther and farther off the ground the infant will begin to use the arms to help keep the head and chest off the floor. As the head and chest come up an infant will prop on the elbows, using the elbows to support the upper body. This pressure and weight bearing on the elbows helps to build strength in the upper arms and shoulders. The muscles continue to grow stronger and the bones continue to be able to support more weight.
The infant will then begin to put weight on the hands while on the belly. During this time the shoulders continue to strengthen and the arms build muscle density. This is also an important time for development of the hand muscles. Weight bearing on the hands while shifting weight (to look around, peek over the shoulder, move to reach for a toy) builds what is known as the arches in the hands. The arches in the hand give the hand stability and shape. There have been times during evaluations when inspection of a child’s hands shows a flat hand with no arch development. This is one sign of poor muscular development in the hands.
Having strong shoulders, arms, and hands is yet another benefit of tummy time. So keep it up, or down, on the tummy that is!