If you’re a parent with a baby, you probably hear a lot about tummy time. But with that term comes a lot of questions. Why is tummy time so important? When do I start tummy time? How much tummy time does my baby need? Why does my child always cry when placed on their tummy?
We have answers to some of your biggest questions and tips on how to make tummy time a place of ease, comfort, and delight for you and your baby!
Why is tummy time so important?
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched the back to sleep initiative and this has significantly reduced cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but now babies are missing out on the 12 – 15 hours of tummy time they used to get during sleep. In the past 25 years, there has been an increase in the number of babies diagnosed with early motor delay. But, supervised tummy time with infants during waking hours can reduce the risk of developmental motor delays and flatness on the back of the head. So, it’s important for babies to get tummy time and essential to start tummy time as early as possible.
Tummy time provides the infant opportunities to strengthen their neck, arm, shoulder, back and upper body muscles. Many studies have shown that infants who are provided tummy time for more than 80 minutes daily achieved greater success in acquiring many stomach and back motor milestones than infants who were exposed to less tummy time.
What are the recommendations?
Make tummy time part of your family’s daily routine
Newborns should begin with 3 – 5 minutes of tummy time a few times throughout the day and work up to a total of 40 – 60 minutes daily by the end of three months of age and 60 – 90 minutes by the end of four months of age. Tummy time can be done in short sessions throughout the day, based on your baby’s tolerance and needs.
You can incorporate tummy time into the activities you’re already doing with your baby, such as towel drying after bath time, changing diapers applying lotion and storytelling!
Be sure to pay attention to signs that your baby is getting tired, such as crying or resting his face on the surface, and be sure to end tummy time before your baby becomes fatigued.
Increase your baby’s ability to reach and play
While your baby is playing on his/her belly, hold a toy in front of his/her face to get their attention. This will encourage your baby to lift their head and reach.
Sit or lie down in front of your baby during Tummy Time and sing or talk to your baby. Siblings are great to help with tummy time.
During tummy time, arrange toys in a circle around your baby to promote reaching in many different directions.
Position your baby to enjoy tummy time
Roll up a towel/blanket or use a boppy pillow to make a bolster that will provide extra support during tummy time. Place the rolled towel/boppy pillow under your baby’s chest, and position their arms over the roll, with hands stretching out in front of it. Your baby’s chin should always be positioned in front of the bolster so that the airway is not blocked. Always supervise your baby during bolstering. Be sure your baby distributes their weight evenly on both sides of his body while on his tummy to strengthen muscles equally.
Limit the time your baby is constrained in swings, exersaucers, jumpers and other baby gear. Encourage active play to strengthen their muscles through tummy time.
Engage your baby’s senses
Place a baby mirror in front of your baby so he/she will be interested in lifting her head to look at their own reflection.
Use blankets or towels with different textures and colors so your baby can experience different visual and touch sensations (e.g., switching between a terry-cloth towel and a fleece blanket). Use toys that make noises (rattles) or toys that light up to keep your little on occupied while on their tummy.
Looking for some great toys to make tummy time fun? Here are 11 amazing ones!
Consider alternatives to “typical tummy time”
Positions for Caregiver:
A great way to carry out Tummy Time is to place your baby on your stomach or chest while you are awake and in a reclined position on a chair, bed, or floor. This is also a great way to begin Tummy Time with a newborn.
Why does my child cry when placed on his/her tummy?
If your baby is having a hard time tolerating tummy time and is continuously crying, here are some suggestions to motivate your baby to tolerate tummy time:
1. Lap soothe: Although it’s natural to calm a baby by holding him/her upright on the shoulder, occasionally try laying the baby tummy-down across your lap to settle him/her down. Be sure to provide support over the baby’s bottom to provide a sense of security and a comforting touch.
2. Tummy-to-Tummy: Enjoy time together. Lie down and place your baby “tummy-to-tummy” or “tummy-to-chest.” Make sure to keep your hands on the baby at all times for security.
3. Eye-Level Smile: Babies love voices and faces. When your baby is playing on his tummy, get down to his level and talk and sing while altering position. This encourages head lifting and turning.
4. Tummy Minute: Start to incorporate tummy time into their daily routine. For example, every time the baby gets a diaper change, place your baby on their tummy for a minute or two.
5. Use an exercise ball to make tummy time fun and relaxing for the baby: Place your baby on their belly over the exercise ball and make sure you have a good hold of your baby. Once you and your baby are comfortable, start slowly rolling the ball forward and backward. It’ll be easier for you to be behind your baby while holding him/her. Place a standing mirror in front of the baby so they can see their own face and you as well.
Research shows that earlier identification of motor delays allows for timely referral for developmental interventions and treatment planning. At the end of three months of age (adjusted for pre-term birth), look for the following:
While lying on tummy, can your baby:
- Push up on arms
- Lift and holds head up
- Turn head from one side to the other side
Signs of concern:
- Difficulty lifting head
- Stiff legs with little or no movement
- Always looking to one side only
- Tilted head/neck
- Uses only one side of the body
- Significant flattening on the side or back of head
DISCLAIMER: The content in this blog should not be used in place of medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes. All activities/exercises posted in this blog should be performed with adult supervision, caution, and at your own risk. Big Leaps, LLC is not responsible for any injury while performing an activity/exercise that has been posted on this blog. If you have any information on the content of our blog, feel free to contact us at [email protected].
This post is sponsored by Big Leaps Pediatric Therapy Practice