Importance of Tummy Time
Parents often ask, why is tummy time so important? When should I start doing tummy time? How much time should my baby be in tummy time? Why might my baby cry when placed on tummy?
Did you know tummy time should start as soon as you come home from hospital?
Why does my baby need tummy time?
- Develop important neck, back, and shoulder muscles; needed to achieve early motor milestones.
- Helps prevent motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome (Plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (Torticollis).
- Baby can visually explore their environment in a new way.
- Encourages lifting the head to see things at eye level and rotate the head from side to side.
How much time should my baby spend in tummy time?
As the infant begins to gain head and neck control on their tummy, they begin to push up on forearms and extended arms/hands. This adds to shoulder stability and hand strength necessary for fine motor skill development.
- Work to build up the baby’s tolerance to being on their tummy.
- Play with different activities at different times of the day.
- Increase number of minutes each day as well as number of times each day as your baby’s strength and tolerance grows.
- By 4-6 months of age your baby should be spending 1-2 hours a day in tummy time.
Why might my baby dislike being placed on their tummy?
- As you begin this activity, remember it is the first time the baby needs to work against gravity.
- They may feel “trapped” in this position since they have not yet learned how to roll.
- Infants with reflux or respiratory issues may dislike the pressure on their chest and tummy.
- Lie on your back and place the baby on your chest or stomach to encourage lifting the head to find your face and voice.
How do I make tummy time fun?
- Roll a small towel, place under Baby’s chest with elbows in front with a rattle.
- Toy with lights or musical toy in front to encourage head lift.
- Place the baby across your lap with toys in front to attract their attention.
- As they get older begin to roll them from back to tummy and tummy to back to show they can move in and out of the position.
- Keep your voice soothing yet encouraging as you introduce new toys or change movements.
- Place them face down on your lap when burping or to soothe them by patting their bottom.
- “Football carry” = Carry them with your arm between their legs and hand supporting their chest.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing baby on back to sleep and on tummy to play.