The Importance of Tummy Time
As a baby grows and develops, it is very important that he has the opportunity to play in different positions. Since babies spend time on their backs while sleeping and in car seats, it is important that while they are awake, they have supervised tummy time. Trying to minimize the time your baby spends in an infant carrier and increasing time on his tummy can help him to develop and increase his strength.
Tummy time helps your baby to develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and helps to increase head control. Strengthening of these muscles is needed for later skills such as rolling, creeping, and sitting. Tummy time can facilitate proper development of head shape and prevent tight neck muscles. Tummy time also allows your baby to practice weight shifting and reaching for objects outside of midline. These activities allow for development of balance and hand-eye coordination. While it is very important to place your baby on his back to sleep, having awake and supervised tummy time allows your baby to gain strength and meet his motor milestones. Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play!
Tips to make Tummy Time successful and fun:
• Duration: At first, your baby may not like lying on his belly. Start small by going until your baby becomes fussy, even if it is less than a minute. Gradually increase the time and progress to 5 or 10 minutes per session. As your baby grows stronger, he will tolerate this position more.
• Frequency: Make tummy time a regular part of your daily routine. Place your baby on his belly after diaper changes or naps and supervise as he plays for a few minutes. As you increase the frequency the baby will get used to playing in this position.
• Toys: Use your baby’s favorite toys during tummy time and engage your baby in play. Start with toys in the middle and then place toys to each side. This will encourage your baby to turn his head and to reach.
• Mirror: Place a mirror in front of your baby while he is on his belly. Mirrors can be a fun way to engage your child.
• Alternatives: If your baby doesn’t tolerate tummy time on the floor, try these strategies:
o Baby lying on your chest: Place your baby on your chest facing you. This will help your baby to lift his head and look up at you. Encourage him to look to both sides.
o Baby lying across your lap: Place your baby on his belly across your lap. Change your baby’s position so he has to look to both sides.
o Baby lying on Boppy Pillow: Use a Boppy Pillow as a support for your baby under his upper chest to allow him to lift and hold his head.
• Make it fun! Play music and sing to your baby! You can also lie down on your stomach in front of your baby and engage in eye contact, imitate cooing sounds, or talk to your baby to encourage him to lift his head. Tummy time is a great way to bond with your baby.