Best-Kept Secrets of Tummy Time
From the day your baby is born, there are ways you can help him develop and grow efficiently. Aside from the more obvious newborn care – such as affection and clean diapers – you can help your baby develop muscle strength and coordination for later milestones by participating in daily tummy time.
What is tummy time?
It’s as simple as the name implies. Tummy time is lying your baby on his tummy while he is awake and alert – with adult supervision. While experts recommend always placing baby on his back to sleep (which reduces the risk of SIDS), you can begin playing with your baby during tummy time from the day he’s born.
Benefits of tummy time
Why is tummy time so important? There are many benefits of tummy time for babies.
- Muscles in the head, neck, shoulder, and torso are strengthened as baby attempts to look and twist around.
- Babies who participate in tummy time daily tend to roll over, crawl, scoot, and sit earlier than those who don’t.
- Lying in a different position decreases the risk of positional plagiocephaly, or a flat spot on the back or side of your baby’s head. A baby’s skull is made up of soft, movable plates. Though these plates harden as baby grows, lying in the same position all the time can create a flat spot.
- Eye muscles are strengthened as baby looks around him during tummy time.
- By lying on the floor along with your baby, there is a chance to play and have bonding time.
When your baby is younger than 3 months (newborn), you can begin tummy time by lying him across your lap or chest 2-3 times per day. A great time to try tummy time is after a nap or diaper change or when your baby is awake and happy. Around 3-4 months of age, place a clean blanket or mat on the floor and a selection of baby toys in a circle for him to reach for. At this age, aim for at least 20 minutes a day (but it doesn’t need to be one single 20-minute stretch – tummy time can be frequent and brief).
Tummy time secrets for fussy babies
For babies who are anxious or fussy about tummy time, try lying down at his level so he can see you nearby. Sing songs or tell stories, place a mirror close by for him to see his reflection, or encourage an older brother or sister to sit beside baby and play. If he begins to get sleepy, be sure to lie him down in a safe sleeping environment on his back.
Some babies enjoy tummy time and can play for longer stretches, while others fuss and cry after a minute or two. Just take it slow and try to make tummy time a happy time for your baby. He will enjoy it more as he grows older. Tummy time can be a fun change of position for babies, and full of rewards, too!
How did you help your baby get started with tummy time? Share in the comments!