What Every Parent Needs to Know About Tummy Time

Cuddling your newborn chest-to-chest might make a romantic pose for a photo. However, it's also one of life's earliest workouts, namely; tummy time.
In this article, we’ll explain how to do tummy time, its different positions, and its many benefits for your baby.
Additionally, we’ll elaborate on the most suitable tummy time frequency, duration, and baby age. We’ll also share tips on how to make it fun and safe for babies.
That said, let's dive into the details of growing strong independent children from day one.

How to Do Tummy Time?

Position your baby with their tummy down on the floor or on a firm crib. This position suits babies of at least two months of age.
If the floor is too hard for your baby, place a folded towel or blanket under his or her tummy. Now that you know the primary tummy time position let's head to the variations.

Alternative Tummy Time Positions

Luckily, there are multiple tummy time positions to alternate between if your baby isn't enjoying some of them. Moreover, there are specific positions for the early development phase.

Tummy-to-Chest

This position is simple and less intimidating for babies. All you need to do is to place your baby with his or her tummy on your chest or tummy while you lie on your back.
You might prefer this position for the early weeks after your baby's arrival. It will allow you to monitor him, or her closely as you enjoy some face-to-face quality time.

Carrying Your Baby Tummy-Down

You can safely carry your baby in a tummy-down position by placing your hand between his or her leg and under the tummy. Make sure you support your baby's head and neck with the other hand. Keep your baby close to your body for side support.
If your baby is resisting tummy time on the floor, carrying him around tummy down can be an enjoyable alternative.

Tummy-Down on Your Lap

Instead of placing your baby on your chest, you can position them tummy down on your lap.
This position is commonly used to soothe babies and help them burp. Since your baby won’t be able to see your face, place your hand on their bottom to calm them down and provide support.

The Benefits of Tummy Time

Your baby will definitely thank you for all the tummy time effort you put in because of their lifelong gains. Here we'll list the benefits of tummy time for babies.

Developing Infant Skills

Consistent tummy time will help your baby meet his body development milestones. You'll spare yourself every mommy's concern of delayed baby development.

Motor Skills

Principally, tummy time will strengthen your baby's core muscles, including the neck, back, and shoulders. This will form the foundation for meeting positional and movement milestones such as sitting, rolling over, and walking.

Sensory Skills

Your baby will develop their tactile sense when they feel the various textures at your home, like towels, carpets, and blankets, during tummy time.
Moreover, as they observe the weight shifts associated with movement, they'll develop a sense of balance and awareness of their body, the scientific name for this is proprioception.

Visual Skills

Regarding vision, tummy time will enhance your baby's hand-to-eye coordination. You can introduce a non-breaking mirror to help him, or her, better observe their reactions. Nonetheless, they'll still be responsive by just looking down at their hands.

Balancing Sleeping Position Conditions

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends putting your baby to sleep on his or her back. This reduces the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Since your baby will probably spend most of the day sleeping, they'll spend hours in that position. Therefore, tummy time makes an excellent exercise for your baby to experience a different position and work their unused muscles.

Preventing Some Motor Conditions

Perhaps, the most critical role of tummy time is reducing the risk of some early physical conditions.
The downside to your baby's sleep on their back is that the head remains in a fixed position for a long time. This might cause the skull bones to shift, forming a flat spot.
Luckily, tummy time has proven to minimize the risk of flat head syndrome and twisted neck condition, which is known as positional torticollis.

What Happens if You Skip Tummy Time?

Simply put, if you skip on tummy time, your baby will be primarily at higher risk of developing motor conditions like twisted neck and flat head syndrome.
Moreover, your baby might lag behind in meeting his developmental milestones.

When to Start Tummy Time?

Just came back with your newborn from the hospital? That's how early the AAP recommends you start tummy time.
If your baby starts tummy time from day one, he'll more likely enjoy the position as he grows. Truth is, being early on tummy time is a long-term investment because not all babies enjoy it.

How Much Tummy Time Should Your Baby Get?

For a newborn child, it's recommended you start with one to two-minute sessions of tummy time, two to three times a day. You should gradually extend the sessions, aiming to reach one hour per day by the time your baby turns three months old.
For practicality, you can break down this hour-long session into shorter ones throughout the day. Feel free to balance frequency and duration according to your child's needs.

At What Age Should Your Baby Stop Tummy Time?

By the time your baby reaches 7-9 months of age, he or she will likely begin crawling. Although it won't be necessary for developmental benefits, tummy time will still be beneficial every now and then.
Your baby will become more independent as he or she spends more time moving.

Best Time of the Day for Tummy Time

It's best to make tummy time sessions either after you shower your baby or change his or her diaper.
If you make this a consistent habit, your baby will be less resistant to tummy time as it becomes expected after their major life events.
For caution, avoid tummy time right after feeding your baby.

How to Make Tummy Time Fun?

No matter how much you think tummy time is fun, some babies will dread the idea of facing the floor. This is more common among babies who started their tummy time at an older age.
Instead of making it through crying tummy time sessions, try one of the alternative positions we mentioned earlier. Here are some extra tips for creating joy out of tummy time.
  • Share tummy time with your baby by getting down to his eye level.
  • Speak and sing to your baby to calm him or her down with your familiar voice.
  • Place toys and rattles around your baby and move them from side to side, encouraging visual tracking.
  • Slowly flip through the pages of a colored picture book to make your baby curious.
  • Place an unbreakable mirror in front of your baby's face.

How to Keep Tummy Time Safe?

  • Stay awake and supervise your baby
  • Place your baby in a clear area during tummy time
  • Remove dangerous objects from their reach
  • If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, place him or her on their back

Conclusion

Tummy time will greatly benefit your baby’s motor skills. Start tummy time as early as you can and progress gradually from a few minutes to a total of an hour daily. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun while you support your baby’s development.