by Krista Parker, RN,BScN, Public Health Nurse
Sedentary behaviour is the new term we are hearing lots about. Sedentary behaviour is time spent not moving, like sitting for example. Did you know it impacts babies as well? Canadian Guidelines suggest that babies 0-1 years should limit their sedentary time and should have no screen time.
Movement is important to our health and it starts right from birth. Movement in the early years lays the foundation for our movement for the rest of our life. Babies develop in a certain pattern from head to toe. For example, babies will first hold their heads up, then roll, then sit, and finally walk. When we disrupt this pattern it can have impacts to their health. Two of the most common problems we see in the early years is baby flat head (plagiocephaly) and neck stiffness (torticollis). The chance of a baby experiencing these issues increases when they have a lot of sedentary behaviour.
There are many ways to prevent motor (muscle movement) problems and promote strong development. One way is with tummy time while baby is awake. This allows baby to strengthen neck muscles and muscles of the upper body. Other ways are to allow babies free play. Avoid using infant equipment for longer than 20 minutes a day. Infant equipment like chairs, swings and jumpers can force babies to move in limited ways which prevents them from reaching their full range of motion and strength. Allowing infants free play allows them the opportunity to explore their world in a safe way.
Active play is good for babies in many ways. According to the Canadian Sedentary Guidelines active babies maintain a healthy body weight, develop social skills, behave better, and improve learning, attention and language skills.
Top tips on encouraging infant movement include, limit infant equipment use, keep screens out of bedrooms, start tummy time in the early days, get involved in playtime with your child, and during long car rides stop for active breaks.
If you have concerns about your infant’s development contact Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519.352.7270.