Lots of healthcare professionals will encourage you to give your baby tummy time. But you may still be wondering when to start tummy time and why it’s so important. This guide will tell you everything you need to know, meaning you can safely help your baby’s development.
The concept of tummy time was first introduced in 1998 when a study noticed that infants that slept on their tummies had improved motor skills. They were rolling from their tummy to their back, sitting supported, creeping, crawling, and pulling themselves to standing, earlier than those who slept on their backs. It’s important to note that they did not notice a difference in the age of babies they learned to walk. However, the Back to Sleep campaign already advised parents against putting babies to sleep on their tummy, due to sudden infant death syndrome. So the concept of tummy time during the day was invented.
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is simply giving your baby time on their front when they are awake and alert. Time spent on their tummies will help them to build strength and develop the skills needed for crawling, standing, and eventually, walking.
What are the Benefits of Tummy Time?
Some of the benefits of tummy time include:
- Preventing flat spots at the back of the head
- Strengthening neck muscles and shoulder muscles needed for sitting, crawling, standing and eventually walking
- Learning to roll, creep, and crawl quicker.
When Should My Baby Start Tummy Time?
Even though your baby may seem fragile, it’s safe to start tummy time from birth. Tummy time for newborns is like a mini-workout. So try to build it into your baby’s daily routine and do it little and often. Ensure they’re alert and active like just after a nap or a nappy change. It’s best to avoid putting your baby on their tummy just after feeding. This is because the pressure on their stomach may cause them to spit up.
How to Do Tummy Time With a Newborn?
You can start tummy time by having your baby lay on your chest, before putting them on the floor. When you put them on the floor ensure they are comfortable by putting them on a soft mat or rug. Get down to their eye level and engage and interact with them. Make this time fun by using tummy time toys and by doing stimulating tummy time activities. If they’re struggling to keep their head up, try using a newborn tummy time pillow or a rolled-up towel under their armpits.
Other Ways of Doing Tummy Time
- Lay your baby with their tummy on your chest
- Have your baby lay over your legs – also great for winding
- Use the tiger in the tree hold – great for soothing colicky babies and winding
- Play airplanes when they’re a bit older. Lift your knees and place your baby tummy down on your shins. Gently move them up and down.
- Use a gym ball. Put your baby on their belly, hold them, and gently move the ball from side to side.
How Long Should Tummy Time Be?
Tummy time for newborns should last for 2 to 3 minutes and should be done a few times a day. You should then build up the time your baby spends on their front by a few minutes every 3 to 4 days. The older a baby gets, the more time they will need on their tummy as this helps them to develop strength. If they are enjoying the time on their front, let them be. Just remember to change their position after 15 minutes. Spreading the tummy time sessions throughout the day gives your baby a much-needed break and will ensure they experience being in a variety of positions. Remember these timings are just a guide. You know your baby best, so be sure to watch out for signs and cues that they’ve had enough.
If your baby is laying on your chest, ensure you are well rested to reduce the risk of you falling asleep. If you’re putting your baby on the floor, check the area is clean and doesn’t have any harmful objects. Always make sure you stay in the room and supervise your baby when they are on their tummy.
Remember to do tummy time on a daily basis and when your baby is alert. Check the area is safe and ensure they are having at least the recommended amounts of daily tummy time. You may find that your baby hates tummy time. If this is the case, turn them onto their back and try again at a later time. However, make sure you do keep trying. It’s not easy for them but it’s good for them to practice. Repeating and remaining consistent will help your baby to feel safe and will get used to being on their front.
Does your baby have regular tummy time? Do they enjoy it? Let me know in the comments section below.