Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Tummy time is a significantly important skill for your baby and it is never too early to start it. Not only does tummy time help with head control and neck strength but it also helps develop extensor muscles, which are your back muscles. It also serves as an important milestone that babies build on. Tolerating tummy time indicates that babies will enjoy putting weight on their elbows than their hands which will lay the foundation for crawling & other milestones. Early tummy time will help relieve the pressure on the back of their heads, therefore, preventing flattening of the head. Additionally, tummy time also aids with visual and sensory development.
What does tummy time look like in newborns?
Remember when we talked about physiologic flexion? Well, physiologic flexion also predominates in tummy time. During tummy time, baby’s hips are bent and their butt sticks up in the air thus preventing them from lifting their heads. By one month, physiologic flexion will decrease making it easier to lift their head. Notice the little attempts your baby makes, this is helping them strengthen their neck muscles against gravity! By 2 months, infants can actively lift their head and hold it longer. Around 3-3.5 months, they should be able to lift their head up to 90 degrees and put weight on their forearms. This is because they are getting stronger and can use their abdominal muscles to stabilize their pelvis.
How often and how long should your baby do tummy time in a day?
Per recommendations, you should do tummy time for at least one hour each day. However, I believe the best way to start is by slowly increasing your baby’s tolerance each day. For example, if your baby tolerates 10 minutes in total of tummy time each day then increase it by at least 2 minutes every other day. This will help challenge your baby and help build their tolerance to tummy time! Tummy time should be practiced frequently throughout the day and initiatally with 2-5 minutes increments. Remember, this can vary per your baby’s tolerance!!!
What ways can you practice tummy time?
The best way to practice tummy time is flat on a play mat. This position can be tiring for your little ones because their head is the largest part of their body and it requires a lot of energy to lift their head from ground up. This my friends is due to gravity! Therefore, it is important to practice tummy time in various positions, but do keep in mind, your baby’s mood and energy level.
Tummy time can be difficult for some babies but I want to emphasize please DON’T neglect tummy time. Try to practice various positions by using different toys which are most engaging for your baby. Practice frequently and slowly build up their tolerance.