Ah, tummy time! It may have a silly sounding name, but it’s actually very important to your baby’s development. It helps strengthen the neck and back muscles, and it puts pressure on the palms of your baby’s hands that helps develop arches and aids with fine motor skills. Not only is tummy time critical for rolling, crawling and working large muscles, but it also helps prevent your baby’s head from developing a flat spot from spending too much time on his or her back. There is even evidence to indicate that tummy time can help prevent SIDS.
It’s never too early to start tummy time. In fact, tummy time for babies can begin as soon as they get home from the hospital! Any time your baby is awake, and you’re monitoring him or her, it’s a good time for tummy time. Tummy time for infants doesn’t have to be for long stretches when they’re just home from the hospital. While the current recommendation is 30 minutes of tummy time each day, this can be broken down into several short sessions. Work this time into your normal routine, and keep it fun!
One good tummy time tip is to use this time to interact with your baby. This is a great time to play peek-a-boo, show your baby a picture book, sing songs or just talk to him or her. A mat designed for tummy time with things to see and toys to grab is a great help, but a mirror, a music box or toys placed just out of reach are also great for entertaining your little one. Make sure the surface on which you place your baby is firm and clear of blankets or anything else that might interfere with his or her breathing. You can even have tummy time by putting your baby on your chest while you lie on your back.
Some babies don’t like tummy time, and that’s ok. Initially, just put your little one down until he or she fusses and fidgets, then turn the baby over for some comfort and praise, and flip him or her right back over! Over time, your baby will get used to spending time face down, and you’ll notice greater physical development progress. A baby should be able to sit and roll over between 4 and 7 months, crawl between 8 and 12 months, and begin walking between 11 and 13 months.
Making sure your baby spends enough time on his or her stomach is a great way to prevent “flat head,” or plagiocephaly, and torticollis, a condition in which the baby’s neck muscles become too tight to allow free movement. If tummy time isn’t enough, the experts at Baby Begin can help with the prevention and correction of plagiocephaly and torticollis. For more information, please visit our website or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.