Thursday, May 9, 2013

Loyola Pediatrician Says Put Baby on Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play

Loyola University Health System pediatrician shares importance of baby’s position

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most parents know the safest way for infants to sleep is on their back. The campaign has reduced the number of children who have died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by more than half. But sleeping is only a portion of an infant’s day. What should parents do when their baby is awake?

“SIDS is a very serious issue, but it’s also caused many of the parents I see in my clinic to be concerned about ever placing their children on their stomach, even if a child is awake,” said Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Tummy time is important for an infant’s physical and mental development. If children don’t spend time on their tummy, it will be harder for the child to push up on the arms, which delays rolling over. It also flattens on the back of the skull.

“If you notice your child starts to have a flat spot on the back of the skull, spend more time playing together on the floor on your tummies and this most likely will correct the issue,” Chow said.

Chow suggests parents place infants on their tummy whenever the baby is awake, even if it’s only for a minute each time. Floor tummy time is preferred but lying on a parent’s stomach will help build head and neck muscle strength as well.

“Even newborns can lift their heads up briefly. So, have some tummy time right from the start,” Chow said. “Tummy-time exercises will help your infant be at maximum strength and set the foundation for rolling and crawling."

In addition to helping your child’s physical strength, it also gives your baby a different view of the world and is great for mental development.

Strong head and neck muscles also help reduce the risk of SIDS. So, it’s important for the baby’s safety to have some tummy time when awake. But they should always be placed on the back to fall asleep.

“To keep your child safe and healthy, remember back to sleep, tummy to play,” Chow said.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 92 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities - that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.