Five Benefits of Tummy Time
This content was updated for accuracy and relevance on 10/29/2020 (SG).
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time describes the period of the day when you place your baby on his or her stomach while your baby is awake and someone is watching. Tummy time is recommended by pediatric specialists to help promote your baby’s development. Tummy time can look different depending on your baby’s age and abilities. Beginning at birth, children gain many benefits from spending time on their stomachs. Our experts are here to break down the benefits and safety of tummy time and provide parents with strategies to making tummy time successful.
When to Begin Tummy Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting tummy time as soon as possible, even as soon as your first day home from the hospital! However, there’s really no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this practice. Tummy time is meant to help your baby’s motor development, so the sooner you start, the better!
How Long Should Tummy Time Last?
Starting with as little as 30 seconds of tummy time can provide numerous benefits, including improved motor and sensory development. As your child gets stronger, the time spent on their tummy should increase with every milestone. A general guideline is 10 minutes per age in months per day (i.e. 10 mins per day for a 1-month old). Tummy time should be integrated in your baby’s daily routine.
Tummy Time Tips & Safety Considerations
Before you start, your little one should be awake and alert. The tummy time position should be performed on a firm surface and your baby should be supervised at all times.
These tips can help your tummy time sessions go smoothly:
- Spread out a soft blanket in a clear area of the floor for tummy time.
- Place an eye-catching, colorful toy within your baby’s reach to help your baby learn to play and interact with his or her surroundings.
- Sit in front of your baby during tummy time to encourage movement and interaction.
Benefits of Tummy Time
To promote your baby’s development of sensory, motor, and visual milestones, it is important for children to spend time on their stomachs while they are awake and supervised. During the newborn phase, it helps your little one stretch out from being tucked tightly during pregnancy. As your child grows, tummy time promotes strengthening of their back, shoulder, and neck muscles to prepare them for rolling and crawling.
Tummy time promotes sensory integration, cognitive development, and awareness of the environment around your baby. They are able to see the world in a different light, and begin to process and relate these connections as they grow and interact with people, places and things.
Daily tummy time can help prevent plagiocephaly – or a flat spot that develops on the skull. This flattening can be made worse with increased time spent in positioners like a car seat, swing, and rock-n-play.
Positioning on a baby’s tummy will improve development of the visual motor system and depth perception, giving your baby the opportunity to see the world in a different way.
Arms & Hands
Tummy time helps strengthen your baby’s arms and hands in preparation for reaching, crawling and fine motor skill development.
Hips & Legs
Your baby’s hips will begin to stretch out and prepare their legs for walking!
Lifting the baby’s head against gravity will help strengthen neck muscles and improve head control. They will also be working on core and upper body strength to improve posture and skeletal alignment in preparation for sitting and walking.
The tummy time position provides many benefits: strengthening, promotion of proper posture, mental and visual stimulation, promoting gross motor development, and exploration and interaction with the world around them. While some babies may not tolerate more than one minute in the beginning, that’s okay!
Continue to promote play and interaction in this position, and they will learn to love it! All babies grow and learn from the environment surrounding them, and tummy time provides them a way to explore in a different position.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, cognitive and physical development, we’re here to help you. Click here to find a clinic that offers pediatric physical therapy!
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