Tummy Time for Babies- Why, When and How to Start

Tummy Time is a crucial activity for babies, giving their neck muscles the right exercise at an early age. It has numerous benefits and experts believe that it can give a developmental boost to the babies, enabling them to achieve milestones early.

What is tummy time?

‘Tummy time’ means giving your baby time on their stomach while they’re awake and you’re there with them. It is important for your baby’s development. It helps them learn to crawl and walk.

Why is it important for newborn babies?

Tummy time is a crucial exercise for baby’s visual, motor, and sensory development.

Visual Development

  • Helps to develop eye and hand coordination. When lying on their tummy, babies can have a look at their hands, how they move, finger movements, colourful objects, trying to catch hold of colourful objects etc.

Motor Development

  • Baby’s back, neck, and core muscles can be strengthened with it.
  • Build a foundation for baby to meet motor milestones including rolling, sitting, crawling, and more.
  • It can possibly help to prevent early motor delays, flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (positional torticollis).

Sensory Development

  • Keeping different soft objects, blankets, paper etc can help to develop baby’s understanding of different textures.
  • Awareness about the weight of the body develops when babies try to shift weight while on their tummy.
  • Positioning the baby in different ways helps to develop their movement and balance.

When should I start tummy time for newborn babies?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies begin tummy time can begin the very day they come home from the hospital.

How long should it be?

 A newborn baby can be given a few minutes (2 to 3 minutes) of tummy time a day to start with and gradually the time can be increased. By four month of age, it can be increased from 20 minutes to 1 hour a day. This can be broken into several sessions per day.

How should I give tummy time to the baby?

  • Place baby on his/her tummy on a clear mat or towel.
  • Keep some colourful and attractive toys where your baby can see them. Make sure all the toys are baby safe and are not a choking hazard. Read here about baby safety
  • Keep your baby on his/her tummy for three to five minutes, two to three times a day depending on the baby’s age. 
  • The best time would be during a diaper change or after a nap. Avoid tummy time after feeding as babies with reflux may not be comfortable with it and may dislike it.

What care should I take?

NEVER LEAVE YOUR BABY ALONE ON HIS/HER TUMMY. Parental observation is necessary as the baby cannot turn back on his/her own and would be at the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Always Remember: Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends baby always sleep on their back. 

If the baby falls asleep, be sure to place them on their back and let them continue to sleep.

What if my baby hates tummy time?

If your baby cries during tummy time…

    • Sing songs to calm down and soothe the baby.
    • Use colourful rattles, toys, and mirrors to engage the baby.
    • Babies love to see your face and your expressions. So get down on the floor at baby’s eye level. 
    • Get your baby’s siblings to play with the baby.
    • Let the tummy time be of short durations. Don’t keep the baby forcefully on his/her belly if not comfortable.
    • Try it while the baby is on your lap or in your arms while giving firm support to the baby.

Watch this video-

So don’t miss on the benefits that tummy time has to offer to your baby. Get started now!

References

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/The-Importance-of-Tummy-Time.aspx

Paediatrics- Official Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Pediatrics- News Release -‘Tummy Time’ Analysis Supports Health Benefits in Infant Development

https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/week-13/tummy-time.aspx

 

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