Tummy time is the act of placing your baby on their stomachs when they are awake and you are watching them. Tummy time is important for many reasons, first it helps them develop the muscles in the neck and shoulders. Strengthening those muscles can help with certain motor skills. Babies who spend time strengthening these muscles with tummy time are found to craw earlier than babies who don’t.-1
At first you can lay baby across your knees for a few minutes and as they grow you can lay them on the floor on a blanket or activity mat. Placing toys around them and laying on the floor facing them can help them enjoy tummy time and build the muscles in their neck and shoulders.
Tummy time is also a great way to help prevent flat head. There are several moveable plates in baby’s skull, this helps them pass through the birth canal; but it can also cause a flat spot on the back of baby’s head if they are commonly laid in the same position. When you allow your baby tummy time each day, that is time they otherwise would have spent on their backs.
Tummy time can begin right after birth, or if baby seems uncomfortable, once the baby’s umbilical cord falls off. –2. It should definitely be started by the time baby is one month old. –2 It is important to realize that baby may be unhappy with tummy time at first, this does not mean you should stop all together, just keep trying at another time.
Lengths of tummy time vary depending on who you are talking to, some say 5 to 10 minutes a couple times a day, some say once a day. Find out what works for your family. Shorter, more frequent sessions can help with a baby who seems to be unhappy about tummy time. If you baby always seems to cry when you lay them on their stomachs ask your pediatrician at your next appointment about ways to help make tummy time more enjoyable.
Tummy time safety is important. You should never leave baby unsupervised during tummy time. You should also not let you baby fall asleep while on their stomachs, this is known to increase the risk of SIDS.
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