As newborn care professionals, we often hear from parents that they want to do tummy time with their child but that they are hesitant to try it because they are not sure of the benefits or what to do. Additionally, several parents recognize the importance of tummy time but shy away from it because their child doesn’t enjoy it. So in this blog, we provide you information on the reasons to do tummy time, guidelines, tips, and safety considerations to help demystify it all.
Why do Tummy Time?
The act of placing a baby onto their stomach for short durations throughout the day allows them to develop both muscle strength and motor skills necessary to control their head, neck, and core. Each of the muscle groups necessary for those types of control is also needed to aid your baby in sitting on their own, rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking. As an added benefit, it also gives your infant much needed time off their back which reduces the likelihood of positional plagiocephaly which is better known as a flat head.
Most doctors will either recommend 30 minutes a day of tummy time or to just to do it whenever you can, but there are no studies to prove that either approach is correct. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests starting to place baby on their tummy as soon as they come home from the hospital. In line with these recommendations, it is a good idea to give the child some time to explore being on their front after diaper changes or a good nap with a goal of achieving 3-5 minute sessions, 2-3 times per day.
Tip 1: Get Down on Their Level
One of the reasons some babies don’t enjoy tummy time is because there is nothing for them to look at while they are on their front. Being on the same the floor with your baby and in their line of sight can make the whole activity a lot more fun for them because the love to see your face. Additionally, it helps to get you involved in what they are doing and helps you keep an eye on them and their immediate surroundings for safety reasons.
Tip 2: Use Toys
Providing toys as a part of your regularly scheduled tummy time is another great way to add some fun and interest to it. In this case, they provide an appropriate amount of stimulation to help keep baby interested in what you are doing but, because each session is short, helps avoid them becoming overstimulated. As your child gets older, toys can help provide motivation for them to learn how to crawl.
Tummy Time Safety
There are many things to consider regarding keeping your child safe during front side play and activity. Always play on a low solid surface such as the floor to minimize the risk of suffocation or falling. Keep pets and small children out of the area while your baby is on their stomach to avoid accidental injury or other issues. If your child becomes drowsy or falls asleep on their tummy, they should be placed on their back to help ensure safe sleep. While all of these rules are designed to keep your baby safe, there is no substitute for a watchful eye so make sure your child is never left unattended while on their belly.