What You Should Know About Tummy Time for Your Baby

Updated on February 9, 2019
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Shalom is a mother and a freelance writer. She spends time helping mothers make their work easier. She runs a parent and family website.

Tummy Time for Your Baby

Babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs. Ever since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that babies lie on their back, sudden infant death syndrome dropped immensely. However, it has led to babies developing positional plagiocephaly, a skull condition that causes a flat spot at the back of a baby’s head. Tummy time is the remedy for this condition.

Tummy time for your baby is beneficial
Tummy time for your baby is beneficial | Source

What exactly is tummy time?

Tummy time refers to having your baby on their tummy for a while during the day. Tummy time should happen under your watchful eye so that you can come to your baby’s aid whenever he/she needs it.

Why should you have tummy time?

Besides the development of flat spots on the back of your baby’s head, lying on their back for too long can also delay the development of motor skills. For example, it will have a significant effect on how long your baby takes to learn how to lift their upper body and roll over. This will in turn affect how soon they sit, crawl, and walk.

What is the best time to start tummy time?

According to the APP, you should start tummy time as soon as you get home from the hospital. You can start by placing your baby on your chest and across your lap for a few seconds. This helps your baby become accustomed to the new position. Tummy time is best when your little one is wide awake, like after a nap or change. You should avoid tummy time after you have fed your baby to prevent them from throwing up.

How long should tummy time last?

When you introduce tummy time, split it into two to three sessions a day of about a minute each. As your little one grows and becomes stronger, increase the time to a few minutes and target a total of twenty minutes a day. Split the twenty minutes into three or four sessions.

Tummy time strengthen your baby's muscles
Tummy time strengthen your baby's muscles | Source

My baby hates tummy time; What should I do?

Do you work out? Ever done push-ups? Not fun when you start right? During tummy time, your baby has to work extra hard and against gravity to raise their head up. It is only natural that they will feel a little strained. The best thing to do is to follow your baby’s lead. If they protest, reduce their time to a few seconds a session and gradually work your way up.

What tummy time tips can I use to make it interesting?

Making tummy time interesting will be a guarantee that your little one will not protest as they develop the skills associated with the sessions. Here are great tummy time tips you can use:

  • Between 0 and three months, babies love a lot of face-to-face. Place your baby on your stomach and talk to them. Your baby will do their best to lift their head so that they can look at you.
  • Instead of laying your little one on the floor, use tummy time mats or a blanket. If they still find it uncomfortable, use a receiving blanket to add a bit of padding and comfort.
  • Have your baby’s favorite toys on their side and in front of them. Use the toys to get your babies attention. You can help your little one reach for the toys. An alternative is having a mirror in front of your baby. Babies are fascinated by other babies. This will catch their attention.
  • Join your baby for tummy time and lead by example. This will be a fun time to make cute cooing noises and have a mini conversation with your little one. This will distract your baby from their workout and keep their attention on you.

Can I let my other kids play with my baby during tummy time?

Unless you or another adult will be there to supervise, it is best if you are the one to take care of your baby during tummy time. Your other kids may think that it’s a game, but in reality, the baby needs help. You should also make sure that pets are out of the way.

If you have a teen, you can accord them some trust and let them help you. Mom’s get so tired, so help is definitely welcome. Teens are likely to have some responsibility and will notice danger signs immediately.

Another safety precaution to take is to ensure that your baby is on a flat surface where they do not risk rolling and falling off. You should also consider having a tummy time pillow to offer the extra support your baby may need.

What tummy time milestones should I expect?

  • By week 2, your baby may lift their head and turn it briefly. They may also make 'pushing' motions as if to crawl since they can’t wholly stretch their feet yet. The most comfortable position is to have their cheek down, knees under hips and their hands near shoulders.
  • By month 1-2, your baby can lift their head to about 45 degrees. They can comfortably place either cheek down.
  • By 3 months, your baby can comfortably lift their head and turn both sides without bobbing. They may even be able to raise their shoulders and occasionally roll to their back.
  • By month 4, baby can lift their chest with support from their forearms. Your baby may be able to lift their hands and legs as if they are flying.
  • By month 5, baby can reach for exciting items in front or on the side. Rolls to their back at will and can use straight arms to lift their chest.
  • By month 6-7, baby can reach one arm to pick a toy. They can push themselves backward on their belly using their arms.
  • By month 8-12, baby no longer needs tummy time unless at will. They explore crawling and walking.

Sources

1. "Tummy Time". American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed Dec 18, 2018.

2. "8 Tummy Time Tips for Your Baby". WebMD. Accessed Dec 17, 2018.

3. "Introducing Tummy Time for Baby". The Bump. Accessed Dec 18, 2018.

4. "Your Guide to Tummy Time" Parents. Accessed Dec 17,2018.

5. "Tummy Time". Pathways Organization. Accessed Dec 19, 2018.

6. "Tummy Time Activities". Healthy Children Organization. Accessed Dec 19, 2018.

7. "Tummy Time" Pregnancy, Birth Baby Organization. Accessed Dec 17,2018.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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