Tummy time is a fundamental aspect of a baby’s early development and has several benefits, from promoting healthy development of motor skills to preventing “flat head syndrome.” Exactly as the name suggests, “tummy time” involves placing your infant on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This simple practice can have a profound impact on their growth and overall well-being. In this article, we will cover what tummy time is and how to safely perform it. We’ll also cover some of the many benefits it offers to your little ones!
What is Tummy Time for Babies?
Tummy time refers to the practice of placing a baby on their stomach while they are awake and under your close supervision. This simple activity allows your baby to strengthen their neck, upper body, and core muscles. You must stay in the room with your baby during tummy time to make sure that they are safe. Here are the four most important factors to keep in mind when you’re starting tummy time with your baby:
Positioning: Lay your baby on their stomach on a flat, firm surface, such as a playmat or a clean carpet.
Duration: Start with short sessions of tummy time, aim for just a few minutes several times a day, and gradually increase the duration.
Frequency: Perform tummy time regularly, incorporating it into your daily routine.
Age: Tummy time can begin as early as a few days after birth, but consult your pediatrician for specific recommendations.
Tummy Time Safety Tips:
Safety is paramount when it comes to tummy time. Follow these guidelines to ensure your baby’s well-being during their tummy time sessions:
Close Supervision: Always stay close to your baby during tummy time to prevent accidents and to provide comfort.
Choose the Right Time: Perform tummy time when your baby is awake, alert, and in a good mood.
Keep the Area Clear: Baby-proof the area and ensure there are no hazards or objects that could pose a safety risk.
Interaction: Engage with your baby during tummy time by talking, singing, or using colorful toys to keep them entertained.
Increase Time Gradually: Begin with very short sessions, just a few minutes a day, and gradually extend the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable.
Key Benefits of Tummy Time:
Tummy time offers a wide range of benefits that contribute to your baby’s overall developmental health! Here are some of the key advantages:
Motor Skills Development: Tummy time can strengthen your baby’s neck and upper body muscles, leading to improved head control.
It also encourages the development of crawling and rolling skills as your baby learns to move around.
Prevents Flat Head Syndrome: Reduces the risk of plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) by allowing your baby to change the position of their head. Check out our video “How Do I Prevent My Baby From Having a Flat Head?” to learn more about tummy time and flat head prevention.
Visual and Cognitive Development: Lying in a new position creates a different perspective and allows your baby to explore their surroundings and develop visual tracking skills. This stimulates brain development as your baby interacts with toys and observes their environment.
Social and Emotional Bonding: Tummy time is a great opportunity to bond with your baby through face-to-face interaction. Talking to your baby, playing with toys together, reading aloud to your baby, and encouraging them to watch you as you move around the room are all great bonding exercises.
Encourages Rolling and Crawling: Tummy time lays the foundation for essential milestones like rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking.
Muscle Development: “Gross motor skills” involve the use of the whole body, including core muscles, to provide stability. The same muscles that tummy time helps develop are crucial for sitting, crawling, standing, and walking in the future.
Tummy time is a very simple yet very valuable tool to aid your baby’s growth and development. Remember, every baby is unique! Be patient and adjust the activities to suit your baby’s comfort and needs. If you notice that your baby seems uncomfortable or is having trouble with keeping their head up, take a break until you can talk to your pediatrician. Some wobbliness and weakness are normal for younger babies, but your pediatrician can rule out any other potential health concerns and give you specific pointers for your situation.
By practicing tummy time safely, you can help your little one achieve important milestones and support their overall well-being. With regular tummy time, you’ll be giving your child a strong start in their journey of growth and exploration!