Have you heard of baby tummy time? Many parents have not heard of it and have no idea what it is, however it is essential to your baby’s development.
What is baby tummy time?
I am sure you have been told that babies should always sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS, so you may be surprised that your baby also needs to spend time on her tummy. Tummy time is when you place your baby on her tummy. She should be supervised and awake during this time.
Why is tummy time so important?
There are so many reasons why tummy time is important. It is important for your baby’s growth and development.
- Prevents a flat spot from developing. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs. Babies should always be on their backs when they are asleep, and since they spend a lot of time sleeping, they spend the majority of their time on their backs. If your baby is always on her back, a flat spot may develop on the back of her head. This is mostly cosmetic and usually goes away on it’s own though.
- Helps develop neck, back, shoulder, and arm muscles. When your baby is on her tummy she has to move her head and hold it up to look around. This helps her develop her neck muscles. These are the muscles that will help her hold her head up and eventually sit up roll over and crawl one day.
- Develops eye muscles. It sounds crazy, but your baby has to work harder to see things when she is on her tummy. This causes her to move her eyes around more to see as her neck gets tired or she can’t turn her head anymore, thus helping her eye muscles get stronger.
When do I start tummy time?
The earlier you start tummy time, the easier it will be for you in the future. You can start tummy time as soon as your baby is home from the hospital, as long as she doesn’t have any medical conditions. Your pediatrician should let you know if you should hold off on tummy time.
How do I do tummy time?
Tummy time is very easy to do with your baby.
You can start by laying her on your chest on her tummy so she can see your face. You can even lay her on her tummy across your legs. You will notice that at first she can only hold her head up for a few seconds before she gets tired.
As she gets stronger you can lay her on the floor on a blanket. You can lay on the floor in front of her to encourage her to look at you. A rattle that makes noise is also a great way to get her attention and try to get her to move her head from side to side.
You should do tummy time 2-3 times per day for 3-5 minutes at a time at first. You should build up to a total of about an hour a day, if possible, by the time she is 3 months old.
Tummy time tips
Tummy time can be stressful for some. Sometimes babies just don’t like tummy time, so these tips will hopefully help make it easier.
- Start early. If you start doing tummy time early your baby will get used to it and she will come to expect it. If you wait to start tummy time until your baby is a little older, she won’t be expecting it and she may cry the whole time because it is though for a baby to be on her tummy.
- Make it a part of her routine. If you put your baby on her tummy right after a diaper change for a couple of minutes, she will come to expect it every time you change her diaper.
- Start slow. Don’t expect to start off at 10 minutes the first time you do tummy time. If you do, great, but work up to it if you have to. Take clues from baby as to how long she can stand. If she gets fussy or tired, turn her back onto her back, even if it’s only been a minute. One minute is better than none. You can try to encourage her to go a little longer by talking to her or entertaining her, but don’t push her too far or she will just get frustrated, and you might too.
- Turn to her back if she falls asleep. Babies should never sleep on their tummies, even if they are being supervised. If she falls asleep during tummy time, turn her onto her back and try again later.
- Don’t do tummy time right after she eats. Putting baby on her tummy right after she eats causes pressure on her stomach and can cause her to vomit. It is best to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after she eats.
- Don’t do tummy time if she’s tired. The best time to put your baby on her tummy is not right before nap time. If you know she is tired or will be napping soon, skip tummy time.
- Prop your baby up. Sometimes babies get frustrated that they are looking at the same thing all the time. Try propping your baby up on a nursing pillow or rolled up towel to give her a new perspective.
- Entertain your baby. As your baby gets older she may decide she doesn’t like tummy time just because she gets bored. Keep her entertained by playing with her or just getting on the floor and talking to her.
Tummy time is an important part of your baby’s development and is something you shouldn’t skip. It has many benefits and will help ensure your baby is on the right track to hit all her developmental milestones.
Did you do tummy time with your little one? How early did you start? Did you follow any of these tips? What additional tips would you add?
Remember back to sleep, tummy to play!
Don’t get discouraged, any amount of time spent on her tummy is beneficial. If you think you are doing plenty of tummy time but still have concerns about your baby’s development, talk to her doctor.