When you first become a parent, there are a million new things to learn about. As your kids grow day by day, their needs will change as well and it can be quite challenging to keep up! Tummy time is an essential part of your baby’s growth and development in their first year, but it’s not always fully explained. The idea is to have your baby spend time on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. Tummy time is a common topic that can bond new parents, so let’s talk a little more about the importance of it and the details so you’re all ready for any questions that come your way!
Why is it important… ?
Tummy time is one of the best ways to help your baby build up strong neck muscles so they can eventually roll over, crawl, and walk! It develops neck and shoulder strength and promotes motor skills as well. Babies benefit from spending time in this new position in many ways, including decreasing the risk of developing flat spots on their head. These flat spots, also known as positional plagiocephaly, are largely caused by a baby spending too much time in the same position.1 Health professionals recommend that babies sleep flat on their back, so tummy time is a good way to counteract this and balance out the skull. While these flat spots are mainly cosmetic, there can be issues down the road if the skull does not form correctly. Tummy time should be done for about 3 to 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. This is also a great time to increase your baby’s awareness of their surroundings and encourage cognitive development through playing with toys.
When should my baby start… ?
Right away! Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend starting tummy time as early as the first day home from the hospital.2 This is a great way to integrate tummy time into your routine and make it easy to remember if you do it every day. In the beginning, you can start with just one or two minutes a few times a day until your baby builds up their strength. As they get bigger, they will be able to tolerate it for longer and eventually start crawling around! If you have any questions about tummy time or the development timeline, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician!
What equipment can I use…?
Tummy time alone does not necessarily use any equipment besides your baby’s tummy and a flat surface. However, different equipment can help change things up and entertain your baby during their designated tummy time. One of the most common things people use is a play mat. They can have different colors and textures to help your baby learn new things, as well as keep them clean from the floor. Lots of baby’s also enjoy playing with toys during this time. There’s a wide range of toys that help with learning to grab and developing fine motor skills. If your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time, using a pillow to help prop them up can
- Jay L. Hoecker, M. (2020, August 18). How much tummy time does your baby need? Retrieved April 29, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/tummy-time/faq-20057755
- Back to sleep, tummy to play. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Back-to-Sleep-Tummy-to-Play.aspx