Tummy time is a very important activity for newborns because it helps strengthen the neck, shoulder, and core muscles, which are essential for overall development.
With so much emphasis on this position while your baby sleeps on his back, it’s natural to overlook the value of tummy time. Although it may be difficult to see at first, these small wiggles and half-lift attempts can greatly help your baby’s development.
It helps avoid the flat area on the back of the head that can occur if your baby spends a lot of time on his back, and prepares your baby for some future milestones like rolling over and crawling. However, if you’re new to parenting, you may have questions about tummy time and how it works.
Don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. So when should you start doing abdominal exercises? And how often should babies do it? Read on to learn about tummy time, an important developmental activity.
Tummy time: what is it?
What exactly does “tummy time” mean? Tummy time is the amount of time your baby spends lying on his stomach under adult supervision while awake. Lying on your stomach encourages your baby to lift his head, improving motor skills and strengthening the muscles in his head, neck, and shoulders.
Also read: The first 4 weeks of a newborn baby
What are the benefits of tummy time?
The benefits of tummy time are:
Newborns and infants under 3 months of age are still learning to adjust their necks. The muscles needed to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk develop during tummy time. Always be there when your baby is having tummy time.
Babies aged 4 to 7 months. Even if your baby is able to roll over or sit up with assistance, you will still need to spend time on your stomach with supervision. Try to keep your arms straight and your head and chest elevated while lying on your stomach. This will strengthen your back, chest, and arm muscles.
Torticollis is a neck disease that affects newborns (tor-ti-KOLL-iss). Newborns cannot turn their heads because their neck muscles are stiff. Tummy time and exercises taught by your pediatrician can help relax your baby’s neck muscles. Tummy time helps babies observe their surroundings.
infants who have positional plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome. This happens when infants spend excessive amounts of time on their backs during the first few months of life. This can cause a flat spot on the back of the head or on one side. Tummy time for newborns can also help prevent flat head syndrome by encouraging your baby to spend time off your back and evenly distributing pressure on your head.
While on the belly, babies experience different body positions and movements and begin to understand how their arms and legs move. Moreover, it shows them a fundamentally different perspective on the world. Babies initially spend most of their time on their backs, which causes their perspective to be temporarily upside down.
As the skin on different parts of the body interacts with the surface your baby is on, your baby is exposed to different textures.
At first, there aren’t many opportunities to have fun with your newborn. Tummy time can be more interactive, but as your baby’s skills improve, it will become more participatory. Tummy time is an especially important opportunity to interact and play with your baby, and is a bonding activity.
When should I start tummy time?
American Academy of Pediatrics We advise parents to start practicing tummy time as soon as possible, even if there is no set time. As long as you and your infant are both awake and alert, you or another caregiver will stay nearby and monitor them. Full-term newborns with no health problems can start tummy time as soon as they get home from the hospital.
If your baby doesn’t like being placed on his stomach, don’t be shocked if there’s some resistance on your first attempt. Babies usually don’t like it and get irritated by it. The first time they may stay there for a minute before screaming. It is important to get them used to the situation. You should start with short sessions and gradually increase your level.
How to do tummy time?
Older babies and newborns may experience tummy time a little differently. To learn more about specific tummy time methods, keep reading.
newborn tummy time
Follow these steps to implement tummy time for your baby between 0 and 3 months of age, when your child is beginning to gain head and neck control.
While your baby is awake, place your newborn baby on his stomach or on your lap.
Interact with her by looking into her eyes, smiling widely, or speaking in a cheerful voice to make her feel more at ease.
Keep your tummy time short at this point (about 3-5 minutes). You can gradually lengthen it as your baby seems to be enjoying it. Turn your baby onto his stomach 2-3 times a day. The best time is right after a diaper change or nap.
By the end of the first month, your baby may have more control over their head movements and their neck muscles may be stronger, but they still need to support their head when you hold them. Until they are about 4 months old, they will not be able to hold their heads up on their own. Therefore, parents and caregivers should supervise tummy time during newborn sessions to ensure the safety of the baby and make it a fun and engaging experience for the infant.
Tummy time for older babies –
Between the ages of 4 and 7 months, older babies will need tummy time in the following ways:
Lay the infant on his stomach on an area of the floor that has a blanket, towel, or playmat on it.
Get on the floor and play with her. You can also dangle toys in front of her.
Abdominal sessions last 3 to 5 minutes at a time. Once you notice that she enjoys the exercise, gradually lengthen her sessions. Practice lying on her stomach two or three times a day after diaper changes or feedings.
At this point, your baby should be able to fully lift his head while lying on his stomach, and may also push up on his arms, arch his back, and try to lift his chest. Your newly acquired upper body strength will ultimately benefit your ability to sit.
You may also see them rocking when lying on their stomachs, kicking their legs, or using their arms to “swim”. This often occurs around 5 months of age and indicates that they are developing the strength and skills to roll over and sometimes crawl.
What are some tummy time tips?
The ideal moment is when your child is happy, awake and engaged with the environment. To make tummy time more enjoyable:
Tuck your arms under your shoulders and gently lay your baby on their stomach.
To mimic the position in the womb, newborns prefer to sleep on their stomachs with their heads tilted to one side.
Turn your baby’s head to the other side from time to time to prevent stiffness in the flat area and neck muscles.
As your baby gains strength, place a high-contrast card in front of him so he can lift his chin and look at the picture.
Sleep next to your baby and talk to him. You can also discuss while flipping through a picture book.
You can let your baby know that you have a friend by giving him signs and giving him back and hand massages.
Place a sturdy mirror next to your child so they can see themselves.
Keep safe toys nearby and move them from side to side to help your baby move their head, focus their eyes, and stay alert.
Try tummy time in different environments, such as on a rug in the shade during warmer months.
What should I do if my baby doesn’t like tummy time?
If your baby starts to fuss during tummy time, change the activity or location. If your baby doesn’t like sitting on the ground, lay him down on your chest and gently play with his hands and feet. Gently rock them, sing to them, or rub their backs.
Babies with Down syndrome often have low blood pressure and decreased muscle tone. Encourage your baby to spend time on your belly with one of her favorite toys to help her grow. Doing this has been proven to raise the head of babies with low blood pressure and Down syndrome.
Tummy time is a great opportunity to bond with your baby and can be fun for both of you. Babies have the opportunity to gain the muscle control necessary for all future development, including sitting, crawling, and eventually walking. Practicing newborn tummy time daily has several benefits for your baby’s continued development.
When should my baby start tummy time?
The first time they left the hospital, when they were newborns.
How long should tummy time last?
By 3 months of age, give your baby at least an hour of tummy time each day.
How often should tummy time be done?
Start with short periods of a few minutes at a time and continue throughout the day.
When should my baby stop tummy time?
At around 7 to 9 months, when your baby starts crawling, it’s less important to have him practice tummy time, as he can reap the developmental benefits of tummy time while moving.