As a new parent, you’ve probably heard the term “tummy time” and been told it is an important part of your baby’s development. But why is tummy time so important and how do you go about providing tummy time to your infant?
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is when a baby is laid on their belly while awake so they can practice holding up their head, looking side to side and supporting weight on their arms.
Why is Tummy Time Important?
Tummy time helps your baby build strength in his neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. This will help him learn to roll, sit and crawl. Belly time while he is awake also helps him maintain a round head shape. Babies need tummy time throughout the day when they are awake because they are spending more and more time on their backs. This is in part due to the American Academy of Pediatrics Back to Sleep program which was put in place to decrease the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by encouraging parents to put their babies on their backs to sleep. Additionally, there has been a marked increase in the use of positioning devices to contain baby throughout the day.
Tummy Time Tips
- Start slowly. Place your baby on his/ her belly for 1 to 2 minutes. You can do this several times a day. Slowly increase the length of time your baby is on their belly – with the end goal being 10-15 minute sessions. By 4 months of age, your child will be able to tolerate being on their belly for 60-90 minutes each day!
- Consider placing your baby over a Boppy Pillow or a rolled up towel under your baby’s chest from armpit to armpit. Adding a towel will make it easier for baby to lift their head and push up. You can also help by placing your hands under baby’s chest and lifting gently to help him/her push up.
- Does your child have a favorite toy? Give it to him/her to play with during tummy time. This will help your baby learn to reach. Prop baby’s elbows under his shoulders to help him/her practice bearing weight while reaching.
- Consider propping a mirror up in front of your baby during tummy time.
- Get down on the floor with baby, face-to-face. Talk and sing to baby. This is a great time to bond with baby!
- Tummy time doesn’t have to be done on the floor!
- Try laying baby on your chest while you lie flat on your back. Being able to look up and see mom or dad can be much more enjoyable for your child.
- Lay baby across your lap while you are seated in a chair or on the couch.
- Carry your baby tummy side down like a football as you move from place to place in your home.
Not all babies like tummy time, but DON’T GIVE UP! Tummy time can be a wonderful time to bond with baby and baby will learn to tolerate and even enjoy this time as they get stronger!