So you’ve heard that Baby needs to sleep on their back, and get some solid playing time in on their tummy – even if they doesn’t seem convinced that laying on their tummy is all that much fun yet. But what’s the best way to get started?
What is tummy time, and why is it important?
The first thing to know about tummy time – when your baby is awake, and spends some time playing and interacting with the world from on their stomach – is why it’s important, even on days when Baby would rather lie back, or be carried.
Tummy time is great for babies because it gives them the chance to work on the chest, shoulder, and neck muscles that don’t get used in the same way when they lie on their backs. These are the muscles babies need when they learn to sit up, crawl, and, eventually, walk.
Tummy time also gives babies the chance to practice their motor skills, and to see the world from a different angle, which can help to stimulate their brain. Finally, regular tummy time can help to prevent flat spots from developing on the backs of babies’ heads.
Not every baby loves tummy time right from the start, but with your help, it could become their favorite time of the day before too long. At this age, aim for two to three tummy time sessions a day, and they can be pretty short, too – three to five minutes is plenty. As Baby starts to get more interested in tummy time, and to have more fun, tummy time sessions can start to last longer. A great time for tummy time is when Baby has just woken up from their nap, or when they have just had their diaper changed.
- Start by putting a soft blanket down on a clear floor
- Put toys on the blanket within your baby’s reach, to encourage them to interact with the world around them
- Sit or lie down in front of them so they can see you from where they're lying
- If they really objects to tummy time, try starting by lying on your back, and hold them so they're lying on their tummy, looking down at you
Tummy time is great for Baby’s physical development, and for giving them a whole new way to look at the world, and before too long, it could be one of their favorite parts of the day!
- “Babies Need Tummy Time!” National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved November 20 2017. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/Pages/tummytime.aspx.
- “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play!” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, January 20 2017. Retrieved November 20 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Back-to-Sleep-Tummy-to-Play.aspx.