What does tummy time mean?
It is common knowledge to put infants to sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. While this practice is the safest way for your baby to sleep, too much time in a supine position has drawbacks for your baby – head flattening, or plagiocephaly, and diminished muscle strength. Tummy time is a method for counteracting all of those hours your baby has spent sleeping on their back by helping your infant build strength in their back, legs, arms, and neck. Babies will either roll over independently or will be safely placed on their bellies to promote strength and development. Babies who don’t get very much tummy time might have slower physical development than babies who do. In a nutshell, tummy is Baby's First Workout.
Tummy Time Tips and Tricks
Many parents start tummy time for about a minute beginning at 1-2 months of age. Tummy time should begin after your baby can hold their head up for a short period of time. Parent Educator, Lisa Sunbury believes in letting your baby determine when it’s time to start tummy time.
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When your baby is ready to turn onto their tummy, keep it simple by placing a clean blanket or mat on the floor for your baby to rest on. Tummy time is an excellent time to interact and play with your baby. You can encourage engagement by placing toys around your baby, which will be an incentive for your baby to reach out for the toys. Therefore, they are strengthening the muscle groups that they will eventually use to roll over and crawl.
Sleep expert Jill Spivack, LCSW, also shares the importance of allowing babies to roll over onto their tummies independently. “What researchers say, however, is that once a baby is able to roll over on their own to their side or their tummy, we cant’s stand over their crib and flip them over every two minutes,” Jill Spivack mentions. She also touches on the importance of keeping the crib and play space for you baby safe by having a nice mattress and good airflow.
Some babies take to tummy time quickly and love playing on their tummies. Other babies may need more time to get used to being on their bellies. If your baby seems uncomfortable, trust that they will gradually build up strength. It takes a lot of work to lift that head up! Begin with brief sessions lasting 3 to 5 minutes 2 to 3 times a day. Start by placing them comfortably on your lap. As your baby gets stronger, slowly work up to 40-60 minutes of tummy time daily and try placing your baby on the floor with a clean blanket or mat.
Try moving down to your child’s level by laying on the ground with them and encouraging them face-to-face. You might also try laying down on your back and placing the baby on your tummy or chest, creating an intimate face-gazing moment for both parent and child. If you have an older child, tummy time is an excellent moment for them to interact with their little brother or sister with adult supervision. Try singing or telling a story to encourage your baby to raise their head and move around as hears and tracks your voice.
Remember, it is important to not leave your baby alone during tummy time. If they are fussy or uncomfortable, try to switch areas or change the play activity.
Researchers have also proven that babies who spend a lot of time on their tummies will begin to crawl or sit up earlier than babies who do not have tummy time. Babies who do not get as much tummy time as others, might be slower to develop skills such as crawling on all fours or sitting up on their own.
Our Top Experts
For more information on tummy time, check out what top experts have to say on the best ways to help your child at http://www.kidsinthehouse.com/expert/parenting-advice-from-lisa-sunbury-ma