Tummy time is one of baby’s first and most important exercises. When you place your baby on their stomach to play, they can start to develop motor skills that will help them crawl eventually. But when should you start?
You can start tummy time as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital. Just make sure they’re awake and that you are nearby so that you can keep a close eye on them.
How long should my baby do tummy time?
You can start doing tummy time 2-5 minutes about 2-3 times a day. Observe how your baby responds. If they look happy, gradually increase the duration of tummy time. If they look uncomfortable, try to first cuddle them in an upright position and then lay them down on their tummy.
See if you can do tummy time for at least an hour throughout the day, broken down in several sessions, till your baby is 3 months old.
It may take longer for some babies to get used to tummy time. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like it at first. You may be able to shorten tummy time sessions until they get used to it.
How to do tummy time
Easing them into it
To get your baby ready for tummy time, you can try a few different positions to let them play and wriggle around:
- Lie down on your back and place your baby on your chest while making a lot of eye contact so they stay engaged with you.
- Another method is to put them on your lap and make sure they do not squirm away.
When you start tummy time on the floor, you can begin by using a rolled-up towel under their chest and armpits so they can lift their head more easily.
Once they’re 4 months old, you may remove the towel support. This position helps them reach for toys and play while on their tummy.
As your baby turns 6 months old, you can try the superman position by lifting them in your arms and making them stretch like superman On the floor, they’ll likely be rolling from front to back and then back to front.
Why is tummy time so important?
Tummy time provides plenty of opportunities for your baby to develop motor skills as they try to wriggle and roll over by themselves. It’s crucial for your baby’s physical development because the exercise helps them strengthen muscles in their back, arms and neck.
When your baby lies down on their back in the same position too much, their skull bones can move and start creating flattening of the head (positional plagiocephaly). Experiencing a different position with tummy time helps keep this condition at bay.
How can I make tummy time fun?
- Place a blanket on the floor for your baby to lie down on during tummy time.
- Incorporate short tummy sessions in between routine activities (after a diaper change or after your baby wakes from a nap).
- Spread out some toys around your baby so that they try to reach them.
- Play music, sing songs, mimic your baby’s expressions and try to talk with them to make tummy time more interesting and interactive for your baby.
Parenting and Newborn Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Establishing Tummy Time Routines to Enhance Your Baby’s Development. https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Patients-Clients/ChildrenAndYouth/Tummy-Time.aspx
Babies need tummy time. https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/safesleepbasics/tummytime