The “Prone to Play” campaign was proposed and has been ongoing since 2001, but the causal and dosage effects of wakeful prone positioning on motor development are still unclear. The purpose of this longitudinal cohort study was to investigate the effects of prone wakeful positioning at 3 to 6 months of age on motor development during the 6 to 24 months age bracket.
Two hundred eighty-eight full-term newborns were recruited at birth and followed up at 4, 6, 12, and 24 months of age respectively. Data on experience, duration, and preference of prone wakeful positioning were collected at 4 and 6 months of age. The acquisition ages of prone specific and nonprone milestones were collected and analyzed to evaluate the impact of wakeful prone positioning on motor development during early life. Gross motor developmental quotients (GMDQ) and fine motor developmental quotients (FMDQ) of the Comprehensive Developmental Inventory for Infants and Toddlers were assessed at ages 6 and 24 months.
The prone duration significantly affected the acquisition ages of 3 prone specific milestones (rolling, crawling-on-abdomen, crawling-on-all-fours) and sitting; without affecting the other 2 nonprone specific milestones (walking and transferring objects), GMDQs and FMDQs. The infants of prone preference achieved prone specific milestones earlier than those of nonprone preference. The prone experience affected the crawling-on-abdomen acquisition age, but not the other motor outcomes.
Wakeful prone positioning promotes prone-specific motor milestones in early infancy. “Prone to play for a certain amount of time in an interactive and supervised environment” might be advocated.