Author: Dr. Veritas
As you try your best to raise your little ones right, you’ve probably come across the phrase “tummy time.” While it sounds like just a cute catch phrase, tummy time is much more than that! In fact, research shows that babies need tummy time starting at day one (1).
While putting your baby to sleep on his back can help reduce the risk of SIDS,your baby needs to spend supervised time on his tummy every day in order to develop healthily (2). Current recommendations encourage playing with your baby on his or her tummy 2 to 3 times a day for short periods of time around 3-5 minutes at first (3). As your baby gets used to tummy time, you can gradually make those periods longer.
These recommendations are all fine and good, but with all the things you should do to help your child, why should tummy time be a priority?
Why does it matter?
Tummy time prevents flat spots. If your baby is always on her back, she can develop flat spots on the back of her head. These flat spots can even staythroughout a child’s life (4)! Having regular tummy time each day when she’s awake and supervised can help your baby’s head keep its shape.
Tummy time strengthens neck and shoulder muscles. Even having short periods of tummy time every day can help your baby develop the muscles she needs. When babies try to hold up their neck and head to look around, they naturally grow stronger in important ways (5). Tummy time is also a great way for your baby to gain a “full range of neck rotation” (6).
Clearly, letting your little one play on her tummy is an important part of healthy development. But as you’re trying out tummy time for the first time, or maybe just looking to make your baby’s tummy time even better, how can parents keep up with the recommended tummy time?
How can I make tummy time safe and fun?
Make sure your baby is awake and supervised. Tummy time can be great for a baby’s development in so many ways! However, it’s important to remember the this basic rule: Back to sleep, tummy to play (7). Make sure that your baby’s tummy time is when your little one is alert and awake. Anytime your baby is on his tummy, stick around to supervise just in case.
Start out with short sessions. Because your baby’s muscles are just starting to develop, tummy time can be a challenge. So remember, start with short sessions (3-5 minutes) and then increase the length of each session as your baby adjusts (8).
Put a toy just out of reach. Babies won’t always love tummy time, especially as their muscles are first starting to develop. Try putting a toy just out of reach to make tummy time more enjoyable for your little one (9). This will also help your baby practice stretching and using those muscles.
Try tummy time today!
Tummy time doesn’t have to be a difficult thing to add to your to-do list. As you simply take a little time every day to play with your baby on his tummy, he’ll be able to better develop those important muscles and grow to be healthy and strong. So for the sake of your child, try tummy time today!