Since babies are placed on their backs to sleep, it’s important that they spend time on their bellies while they are awake. When it comes to a baby’s development, learn why tummy time is a major step to other milestones, how much tummy time they need, and most importantly how to make it fun.
What exactly is Tummy Time? Tummy time is just that—time a baby spends on his stomach while awake and supervised. Tummy time is critical in boosting a baby’s motor skills. It allows your baby to gain strength in their neck, back, and shoulders that are needed to meet other developmental milestones such as rolling, sitting, and crawling. A baby with developed neck and back muscles has a decreased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Tummy time also helps alleviate gas pain and the development of flat spots on the back of your baby’s head.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a full-term baby with no health issues can start tummy time as soon as they come home from the hospital. Though your baby may get cranky with tummy time initially, as an infant, you should strive for about two to three sessions daily for 3-5 minutes after a diaper change, or after your baby wakes up from a nap. Once your baby gets used to it and begins to enjoy it more, you can lengthen their tummy time to 10-20 minutes daily. By the time your baby is three or four months of age, they should work up to 20-30 minutes of tummy time until baby can roll over on his own, a milestone many babies accomplish around six or seven months of age.
Like most exercises, tummy time can be a struggle at first. Check out some helpful tummy time tips below:
· Set-up a soft, safe space and lay baby down. The floor is ideal, but you can also lay an infant on your stomach, chest, or across your lap.
· Engage your baby with a few colorful toys, a mirror, or yourself. Get on the floor and place items within their reach to help them stretch out and learn to play.
· Play music or sing to distract them.
· Use a tummy time mat which could make it more comfortable.
· Lastly, don’t give up! They may fuss and hate it at first, but don’t stress it. It’s ok to take a break or a few days off. As long as their doing some tummy time, it will have some benefit.
Please keep in mind, tummy time is only for when your baby is awake and never when they are asleep. For more information on how to keep your parent game strong, see Parent Pointers, a series of helpful articles, tips, and ideas.
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