As parents, you hear all this information about putting Baby on his back; now your pediatrician is talking about tummy time. So, what’s the story? Yes, babies should always sleep on their backs; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this significantly reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS (Berk & Smith, n.d.) However, when awake, Baby still needs to strengthen other muscles that will help with development and milestones. Hello, Tummy Time! We are here to help you out with a parent’s guide to tummy time.
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is placing your baby on his stomach, or tummy, when he is “awake and supervised.” (Hoecker, 2017). In the beginning, this can happen when you’re holding your little one; just put him on his belly on your lap for a few minutes. Another good option is to lay a blanket on the floor and place your baby on his stomach on the floor for a few minutes. The best time for tummy time is after your baby has woken up from a nap or had a diaper change; after feeding is not recommended as pressure on the stomach could cause your child to spit up (Berk & Smith, n.d.). Keep in mind that tummy time is play time, so put some toys or maybe a baby mirror down on the floor with your child. This is also a great time for you to be lying next to your little one, interacting with him.
When Should Tummy Time Start?
The AAP says it can start from the moment baby comes home (What to Expect, 2019). It’s only for a few minutes, two to three times a day, in the beginning but you want to work up to ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes eventually. Again, this should be supervised time, so you don’t want to leave your child on his belly and step out of the room or not be able to see him.
Why Tummy Time?
Tummy time is important for a few reasons. First, because it is safer for babies to sleep on their backs, they can sometimes develop a flat spot on the back of their heads. Tummy time gives your baby a chance to be in a different position (Hoecker, 2017). Additionally, tummy time helps your child develop important muscles, gain head and neck control and prepare for developmental milestones like turning over, crawling and even walking. Tummy time sets the stage for important motor skills to develop so you want to make sure you and your baby are doing it. (What to Expect, 2019).
Will my Baby Like Tummy Time?
It would be nice if there was a standard answer for this but it varies. Some babies love it, some babies hate it – and let you know — while others are rather indifferent. Since it is an important part of your child’s growth, here are some ideas to make it more enjoyable.
- Get on the floor with him. Your baby loves you and having you down there will engage your child more.
- Toys, toys and toys. Make sure there are fun, colorful, even noisy toys to distract and delight your baby.
- We mentioned this before but tummy time and mirrors go great together.
- Do More for Less. If several minutes has your baby wailing, do less time more often. Instead of 3-5 minutes three times a day, do 1-2 minutes five times a day.
- Change it up. Have tummy time in different rooms – the den, the bedroom, the living room. A change in scenery might distract your baby.
- Do tummy time on you. Sometimes a baby may hate being on the floor but will lay on you (stomach to stomach) for a few minutes. If it works, go with it!
- Please keep safety first and ensure tummy time is always supervised; also, continue to sleep your baby on his back.
After all of this, if your baby still doesn’t like tummy time, you may need to grit your teeth and bear it. But don’t worry – with time, your little one will get used to tummy time and be moving onto bigger and better things!
Berk, S. & Smith, E. (n.d.). Your Guide to Tummy Time. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/baby/development/physical/tummy-time-guide/?
Hoecker, J. (2017, August 29). What’s the importance of tummy time for a baby?
What to Expect Editors. (2019, April 24). Tummy Time for Baby. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/week-13/tummy-time.aspx