Before babies begin to crawl and walk, they have other important physical milestones to meet like rolling over, sitting up, and lifting up their heads and necks. In fact, nearly all of babies “moves” are predicated by his or her regular practice of tummy time.
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is exactly what it sounds like, that is, any amount of time your baby spends in a prone (belly-down) position while awake and supervised.
Why is Tummy Time Important?
Babies who don’t spend any time on their tummies can miss out on the important practice of lifting their heads against gravity. And bearing weight with their arms—activities that strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, and belly. This physical development will eventually become crucial for babies to sit, roll, push up, and crawl.
As she gains these new motor skills and perspectives, she’ll become more confident and curious, which will encourage her to move and explore the world around her not to mention, prepare herself for crawling. Additionally, placing your baby on her belly for play will provide her with the opportunity to move from side-to-side, which can help with coordination, balance and postural control.
Newborns who spend the majority of their time in car seats and lying on their backs can develop a misshapen or flattened head. Like adults, infants need to experience a variety of positions in order to maintain and develop healthy, functional bodies.
You can balance out the nighttime back sleeping with tummy time as well as baby wearing.
When Should You Start Tummy Time?
The sooner you begin encouraging your baby to lie on her tummy, the more likely it is that she’ll accept this position as natural.
An easy (and instinctual!) way to practice tummy time is by laying belly-to-belly as you do skin-to-skin bonding.
To get started, lie down on your back and place your newborn tummy-down on top of your soft belly, with your heads pointing in the same direction.
Place your head on a pillow so that you’re able to easily gaze at your baby.
Smile and speak softly
Your newborn will already have the reflex to lift her head slightly, and she will enjoy looking at your face and hearing the sound of your voice in this position. It’s a wonderful way to bond.
If your baby enjoys belly to belly tummy time, then try to lie her across your lap for a few minutes, patting and stroking her back or lifting your legs slowly up and down or side-to-side to soothe and calm her.
Once baby gets stronger
Eventually, place your baby belly-down on the floor for a few minutes at a time. This is best practiced on a clean floor, with a soft rug or blanket covering it.
Many babies are initially resistant to the new position and perspective of being belly-down on the floor. If your baby fusses when you start tummy time on the floor, try comforting her by returning to a position on your belly or lap, reminding him that he’s safe and secure on his tummy.
Avoid putting babies on their tummies if they’ve just eaten or if they are gassy or irritable. The pressure on their belly will, understandably, be uncomfortable. This is especially true for babies who have colic or acid reflux. Be especially sensitive to their unique needs. Do tummy time just after your baby wakes from a nap or directly after a diaper change. You also want to avoid at the end of the day or during the witching hour time.
Safety notes moms need to know when doing Tummy Time
Absolutely do not let the baby do it when the child is sleepy or sleeping
Only give your baby Tummy Time when supervised by an adult
Do not place hard, sharp or pointed objects near the baby lying down
Do not leave the Tummy Time baby in a place with hanging or high objects to avoid falling on the baby
Do not let pets roam freely around your baby.