My study during pregnancy taught me an important lesson on the tummy time of newborn baby. I learnt that AAP American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be put “back to sleep” to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However the after effect of this back-to-sleep position results into developing flat spots on the back of babies skull. Not only this always lying belly up can delay motor development.
Here is my Tummy Time comprehensive Guide, it helped me so surely it will help you 🙂 Be a good mother, ready it carefully, take print if needed … I am sure one fine day your baby will thank you for this.
What is Tummy Time?
Placing an infant or baby on her stomach (prone position) only while awake and supervised is called as tummy time.
Why Tummy Time?
Well Tummy time is absolutely must for your baby to develop core strengths which is foundation of many motor developmental milestones. Tummy time is important not only for development of gross motor skills like crawling, sitting, and walking, but also fine motor skills, visual motor skills, sensory processing skills, learning and attention too.
It also acts to prevent head flattening which is observed in babies who keep lying flat the whole day.
Flat head not only looks odd but also a mild flattening of the head may result into tightness of the neck and trunk muscles, making normal movements of baby harder.
So remember that Tummy Time is one of the most important baby development milestones and you should not miss it at all! This is foundation of future success for your baby!
Remember : Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play
When should you start tummy time with your newborn?
It should start as soon as possible for your newborn, no need to wait at all. Time can be just a few minutes in a day at beginning, which can slowly increased every day till about an hour a day, this you will be able to achieve by the time your baby becomes three months of age.
Only thing is that you need to take care how you to start it for a newborn. It is fairly simple and straightforward.
For a newborn : Begin by placing her belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes, this will make the baby comfortable and make her accustomed to the position.
Tip : Keep some time after the feeding, else baby may spit up milk, so wait for at least 20 minutes after feeding. Best time to do it is after a diaper change or nap, when baby is fully awake & in responding mood.
After a while, I mean a moth or so, for tummy time, just start placing your baby on a sofa or bed or even floor with blanket.
- Babies 1 week upto 3 months:
- Prevents head turn preferences & flattening of the head.
- Learn positions for play that strengthen core muscles
- Encourages reach and grasp, and visual motor development.
- Babies 4 months upto 6+ months:
- Learns play positions that best promote core strengthening for rolling, sitting, hand use
- Feeding, transitioning to solids, self-feeding, and nutrition also addressed.
How much tummy time does your baby need?
The time will change as per the age, so while she is newborn, tummy-time can be upto 3 minutes (two to three times in a day) which can be slowly increased to 20 minutes a day in a months time, so by end of three months, you should be able to make it an hour a day (in parts)
So after about third month, baby will begin to lift her chest off the floor using her elbows and will try to lift her head upright. (see the photo in this post) She will try and lift her arms off the floor and begin playing, while doing this her back will get exercise in arch shape, she will be kicking her feet.
In next couple of weeks, by the time she is in forth month, baby will start stretching legs, pushing herself on the floor, trying to move forward. During this period she will lean on sides, fall over, roll from belly to back and start enjoying the sessions.
By the time baby enters into her 5th or 6th month, she will start pivoting on belly and use arms too to move on sides. This is like beginning of motoring, she will be happy to make movements at her will, she wants to explore the world, see all things which are colorful around her. She begin enjoying and develops a confidence, she is happy to achieve something great! Slowly the skills grow & you will see improvements in the movement co-ordination as per her will.
Should I worry if my baby hates tummy time?
I think there is no need to worry, but yes, it is necessary to take some actions from your side to make it happen for your baby.
By nature some babies may hate being on tummy and will begin crying as soon as you place them facedown mode. Now this is something like making you exercise and you don’t want to do it (everyone knows exercise if better or must, but how many of you do regular exercise?) But that’s natural.
So you need to make the activity interesting for the baby. Simple is to get down on your baby’s level, keep talking to her, look at her, she will get encouraged to look to you. Best way is to make goofy noises and facial expressions to attract her. Babies like songs too, so try one for her 🙂
Newborns are specially attracted to dark colors such as Yellow, Red, Blue. So while you try tummy time on floor, make sure to keep colorful toys of different shapes around her.
Place safe toys near baby and move them from side to side in front of babies face, this will encourge here to move, lift and turn her head and generated eye movements.
Get down on the floor next to your baby, turn pages of big picture books or magazines with colorful photos, this will generate interest and invoke babies eye movements.
Another way is to lie on bed or sofa and get your baby on your chest lying on her tummy, this will make her feel warm love and she will start liking it. You can talk to her, sing a song so that she tries to look at you by lifting her head. This way you can try increasing time per day starting from few minutes to an hour in three months.
Get her outdoors, babies like green colors of nature, bird chirping and movement of people and animals around them.
Have fun with Baby, Enjoy your time!
Tummy time shall be fun for baby as well as you too!!
Remember this is an important phase where the baby develops an affection towards mother and father, she starts making face-to-face & an eye contact with you both.
The more interesting you make things for her, she will like tummy time.
Tip : It is said that you should not show mirror to your baby! I am not sure its a myth or what, but since my mom told me so, I did not do it till she became a year old.
As suggested by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) parents must ensure that tummy time is exercised under supervision and when the baby is fully awake & alert.
Never leave the baby unattended during tummy time. Specially do not keep her on high surface like a sofa, from where there are chances of rolling down, which is very dangerous.
Best way is to keep the baby of floor with blanket below, do not leave her on carpet which might cause infection when she touches her face down.
If you have pet at home, make sure that you are available all the time near baby monitoring her. Don’t worry within few days they will get acquainted with each other well. But till that time care needs to be taken by parents.
As AAP suggests, do not leave the baby unattended on here belly, there are quite few chances that she will get suffocate into this position if she can’t lift her head for sometime.
Make sure that baby sleeps on her back and not on belly. This way you avoid risk of
If your baby gets drowsy or falls asleep while on his tummy, switch him to his back for a nap. You should never let him sleep on his stomach because this could put him at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Finally to wrap up I have prepared a simple tummy time guide (see above image), the same version I have prepared in PDF format so that you can take nice colorful print of it and tuck it onto dashboard at home or office 🙂 If you like it do let me know in comments below.
Physical development monthly milestones
First month : Baby becomes familiar and starts spending more tummy time.
Second Month : Neck control phase
Third Month : Head positioning at a 45-degree angle from the floor, uses her forearms.
Forth Month : Head lifting to a 90-degree angle and supporting with her hands.
Fifth & Sixth Months : Roll from front to back, and begins to sit propping herself up with one arm.
Seventh & Eighth Months : Might begin crawling, can get-up on her hands and knees.
Ninth & Tenth Months : Can stand and cruise along the furniture.
Eleven month to one year completion : Bravo, your baby takes her first step to the bright future.
To wrap up I have summarized benefits of tummy time
1. Develop Neck Strength
Babies tend to lift her head to look for things and turn it from side to side, this way it starts development of neck strength. This is beginning of building strength, stability dexterity in their arms and hands.
2. Building Core Strength
Slowly the baby starts pushing up her hands or pulls things that she gets into her hand, at the same time she is also trying to pull her knees up, all these activities start strengthening the shoulders, hips, abdominal and back muscles. Obviously these are building blocks for their core strength, which is backbone for further activities like rolling, crawling, sitting, and walking. So tummy time helps to develop core strength.
3. Avoids Flat Spots on head
If your baby spends most of the time lying flat or in car seat, swings or chairs, there there are more chances that they develop a flat heads due to compression of tender skull. This later becomes a permanent shape thus looking odd when they grow-up.
So make sure that your baby spends good tummy time, so that she will be blessed with a beautiful, round heads with no flat spots or bald spots.
4. Visual Development
While baby is lying on the floor, during tummy time, she tends to look for things around like colors attract them, moving things attract them. They try to look for things lying into their line of sight. They try to focus on things, they try to track movements thus developing visual skills.
5. Sensory Processing
When baby is lying on tummy, on any surface like a sofa or carpet or blanket, the front portion of her body touches different surfaces thus developing sensation & feeling of textures against the skin.
Generally it is seen that babies spending more tummy time usually have better sensory processing.
6. Stretch the Hip Flexors
Leg stretches can be done during the bath time by you or by the baby herself during the tummy time.
Yes, this is the time when baby on her own tends to stretch her legs out and in, fully extending baby’s hip flexors. This is again an important step for symmetry with crawling and walking.
7. Avoids Torticollis (Tightening of neck muscles)
If your baby does not do adequate neck movements, they are likely to develop torticollis, which is a tightening of the neck muscles that make it difficult for babies to turn their heads.
However if your baby is spending sufficient tummy time, more chances are that they learn & make neck movement thus lessening or mostly eliminating the possibilities of developing torticollis
Tummy Time Guide
From the desk of Author Olivia (a mother of newborn)
As I am learning and teaching myself, I am also trying to put things onto my blog for you all. If you like this post, do comment on the post sharing your experiences. I do have close friends who are gynecologist and will surely help you in case of any difficulty.
Lastly do not forget that tummy time MUST be supervised.
Its quite natural if your baby hates the tummy time, and not at all difficult to make her liking it with little efforts.
Keep patience, make consistent efforts for your loving baby. Get along-with her to help her achieve new milestones of her life.
If at all you feel it difficult, just remember what your mother did for you years before 🙂
Love you moms 🙂