Tummy Time Is Important For Your Babyhere’s Why
From the day your baby comes home, tummy time should be part of their routine. Find out why tummy time is so valuable
Medically reviewed by a board-certified Pediatrician
Before babies can learn to roll over or walk, they need to strengthen and develop muscles. To help them grow stronger, incorporate tummy time into their daily routines. Heres an easy guide to making tummy time fun for parents and baby.
When Should Tummy Time Start
Tummy time should start when your baby is a newborn, according to the AAP. Start by placing her belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes at a time so she gets accustomed to the position. Just don’t do it right after a feedingpressure on her full abdomen may cause her to spit up. Ideally, you want to do tummy-time activities when she’s most awake and alert, such as after a diaper change or nap.
Why Is Tummy Time Important For Your Baby
As much as experts have been stressing that you put your baby to sleep on her back, it is likely a bit surprising that you sometimes hear about the importance that your baby also spends some time on their stomach, which is called tummy time.
Although it would seem like these recommendations contradict each other, there is an important difference: Tummy time is just for when your baby is awake.
You should continue to put your baby to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS.
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What Can Tummy Time Help With
Tummy time is good for:
- Newborns and infants 13 months old who are just developing neck control. Tummy time helps develop the muscles they’ll need to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk. Always stay with your baby during tummy time.
- Older babies, 47 months old. They should still spend some supervised time on their bellies, even if they can roll over and sit with some help. Tummy time helps them practice lifting their head and chest further by straightening their arms. This strengthens arm, chest, and back muscles.
- Newborns who have a neck condition called torticollis . Tight neck muscles keep the baby from turning their head. Tummy time encourages babies to look around, and along with exercises your doctor will show you, can help your baby’s neck muscles relax.
- Babies with flat head syndrome . This happens when babies spend too much time on their backs in the first few months of life. This can cause a flat spot, either on one side or the back of the head.
Making Tummy Time Interesting Fun And Safe
Let your baby know youre there by talking and singing, stroking his back or tickling his hands.
If your baby doesnt like tummy time on the floor, try tummy time on a rolled-up towel, your lap or large ball.
Supervise baby during tummy time. As he gets stronger and starts moving more, clear away dangerous things.
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Tummy Time For Newborn Baby And Safety Practices: A Guide For Parents
The A-Z of tummy time for your baby is explained in this article. We even give you some great tips and tricks on what to do if your baby hates tummy time. Must-read for pregnant mums, and new parents!
If you are about to bring your newborn home, or have just done so, your doctor may have explained the importance of placing your little one down on his back to sleep. Its equally important to ensure that your baby has supervised time lying on his stomach while he is awake. This, in fact, is what tummy time for baby is, according to Dr. Wendy Wallace, a paediatrician at The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network.
To help you be more informed about tummy time and why its important for your little tot, weve made the ultimate guide for safe practices and when you should start. Do remember that every child is different so theres no need to immediately panic if your baby happens to be a bit slower in reaching this milestone. If there is a cause for concern, you can then seek help from a doctor.
Regular tummy time for baby will help prepare your child for important physical milestones such as rolling and crawling. In this image, the baby , has raised himself on his arms from tummy position and is preparing to crawl.
Does Having Your Baby On Your Chest Count As Tummy Time
Absolutely! Time spent with your babys chest against your own does count as tummy time and its an excellent way to bond with your newest family member when you bring your baby home.
Mix it up if your small bundle spent the morning snuggled up on your chest, place them belly-side-down on the floor when doing the activity again in the afternoon.
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When Should My Baby Start Tummy Time
The “tummy time age” begins on the day your baby comes homeyes, even with their umbilical stump attached. Newborn tummy time helps establish the routine, so your baby will become used to this important part of their waking hours. Don’t worry if your newborn can’t lift their head up high just yetit will happen before you know it.
When To Start Tummy Time
At what age should you start tummy time? While theres no prescription for exactly when to begin practicing tummy time, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents get going on it early. In fact, babies born at full term with no health issues can start tummy time as soon as their first day home from the hospitalso long as you and your newborn are both awake and alert, and you or another caregiver are there to supervise.
Dont be surprised if baby hates tummy time and those initial attempts are met with some resistance. Babies usually dont like it and get cranky about it, says Michael McKenna, MD, a pediatrician at St. Vincent Medical Group in Zionsville, Indiana. The first time, they might only be down there for a minute before they start screaming. Its about getting them used to being in that position. Youll probably have to start with short sessions and work your way up.
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How Long Should Tummy Time Last
Now that you know when to start tummy time , you may be wondering how long each practice session should last. A little bit of tummy time actually goes a long way. When it comes to newborn tummy time, aim for two to three sessions a day for three to five minutes at a time, ideally after a nap or diaper change and as part of playtime. You can stop or take breaks in there if your baby is having a tough time, says Ashanti Woods, MD, a pediatrician at Mercy Family Care Physicians in Baltimore, Maryland.
As baby gets older and begins to enjoy this workout, gradually ramp up the number and duration of tummy time sessions. Aim for around 20 to 30 minutes a day of baby tummy time by the time theyre 3 or 4 months old. Remember, it doesnt have to happen in one long session. Keep the practice up until baby can roll over on their own, a feat many babies accomplish around 6 or 7 months of age. Even then, you may consider keeping tummy time practice a part of your regular routine itll help them as they start learning to crawl.
Creating A Safe Space For Tummy Time
Whether youre having fun with floor time, or practicing tummy time with baby on your lap, creating a safe and comfortable space for baby to play on his tummy is super important. Here are some guidelines for how you can create a safe and fun space for your baby to learn and grow with you.
- Make sure whatever surface youre playing on is clean and free of small or dangerous objects.
- Set up a comfortable pad if you have one .
- Lay down a soft blanket or sheet, but make sure it doesnt slide around too much as baby moves around.
- Line the space with pillows this is also a great way to encourage baby to use his strength to climb over pillows when he gets to crawling, and can help baby practice rolling on their own.
- Make it fun! Set out some of babys favorite toys, fun things to look at like mobiles or patterns are great.
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Where Is The Best Place For Tummy Time
You can begin tummy time with your baby on your chest or in your lap, when theyre newborn . Later, tummy time should be on a low, safe surface.The babocush helps support tummy time and is great for strengthening your babys neck, back and torso as well as helping prevent flat-head syndrome, and promoting cognitive development. The babocush encourages the airways to remain open and relaxed, reducing the time taken to burp your baby.
Tummy time will benefit your baby’s physical and sensory development if you practise it every day. It’s a crucial approach for your baby to acquire the motor skills and muscular control theyll need for all the exciting milestones ahead.
Some Ideas For Newborn Tummy Time On You:
- Put your baby on your chest facing you, and softly talk to them to try to encourage them to lift their head
- Put your baby belly-down on your thighs and gently rub their back show them a High-Contrast Card in their line of vision and slowly move it upward to see if their head moves up
- Carry your baby football-style on your forearm
If your baby is fussy during a tummy time session, you dont have to force it. Keep trying short sessions a few times a day. Babies who start tummy time early take to it better later on. The experts all agree: tummy time is essential for building the muscles and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, walking, reaching, and playing.
The Looker Play Kit
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How To Do Tummy Time
Like most exercises, tummy time is pretty straightforward. Heres how to get started:
Set-up a soft, safe space and lay baby down. A blanket or a tummy time mat on a firm, flat surface works well. The floor is an ideal spot, though you can also lay your infant tummy down on your stomach or chest or across your lap.
If baby doesnt respond to tummy time on their own, try to engage them. Seeing your face can be incentive enough for baby to try lifting their head from your body, but McKenna warns that sometimes this plan can backfire. A sleep-deprived new parent might be tempted to snooze. Or, if you manage to stay awake, baby might not have incentive to lift their head off of your warm body and they could drift off to sleep.
See how it goes and how baby responds to tummy time. You may need to play around with positioning. If, say, baby really cant handle being on their stomach, consider laying them on their side. This AAP-recommended position has baby on a blanket, laying on their side, with a rolled-up towel behind their back and a rolled-up washcloth under their head for support . Bring both of babys arms in front of them and both legs forward, bending their knees for comfort. Be sure to roll them to the alternating side every 10 to 15 minutes.
What Should You Do When Your Baby Dislikes Tummy Time
Its very common for little ones to dislike tummy time immensely at the beginning. But even a few minutes of tummy time initially are better than nothing at all, and will give your little tot the opportunity to strengthen and develop those muscles.
If tummy time is more torture than fun, though, give these tips and tricks a try:
- Change locations and the view he gets while on his tummy: Try your bedroom in the morning and your living room in the evening. And if you seem to be placing him down with his head pointing in the same direction, turn him the other way so he gets a different view of his surroundings.
- Do tummy time together: Lie down next to your sweet baby on your own tummy either facing him or side-by-side, and coo and smile together.
- Massage: Who doesnt like a good back rub? While your baby is on his tummy, gently rub his back and legs. You could even try out some baby foot reflexology while youre at it!
- A new face: Have daddy get involved in tummy time too. Even an older sibling could get down on his/her tummy and entertain your little one while he is on his tummy.
Try placing your babys favourite toys close to him during tummy time, so he is encouraged to raise his neck/head and reach out for them.
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Here Are Some Tips For Newborn Tummy Time On The Floor:
You can see Ayesha Currys adorable newborn doing tummy time here.
- Slowly roll your baby onto their tummy with arms tucked under their shoulders
- Newborns like to have their heads to one side while lying on their bellies, mimicking their position in the womb
- Offer your baby some High-Contrast Cards to look at while their head is to the side
- Periodically move your baby so their head rests on the opposite side head-turning helps avoid flat spots and tight neck muscles
- As your baby gets stronger, place high-contrast cards in front of them so they work to see the images when lifting up their chin
What Are The Benefits Of Tummy Time
Offering tummy time to your baby every day offers a variety of benefits:
Promotes physical development. Tummy time helps strengthen your babyâs neck, arms, back, and legs, and also helps her gain flexibility and muscle control. The motor skills and strength she develops will be needed for rolling over and sitting, and then crawling and walking.
Provides a new perspective on the world. It gives your baby the chance to observe and explore her environment in a different way than she does when sheâs on her back. On her stomach, she has to lift her head to look around. This not only helps strengthen her back and neck muscles but also gives her a new perspective on the world.
Helps ease torticollis and avoid flat head syndrome. Tummy time can be beneficial for babies with torticollis, a condition resulting in tight muscles in the neck. Tummy time, along with exercises prescribed by a healthcare provider, can help a babyâs tight neck muscles relax. Spending time on her stomach while awake can also help avoid flat spots developing on the back of your baby’s head, known as flat head syndrome.
Introduces new textures. It exposes your baby to different textures as the skin on the different parts of her body come in contact with the surface she is on.
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