The Benefits of Tummy Time for your Baby
Tummy time is not only important from allowing your baby some entertaining playtime, but also to help them practice and develop a strong back, leg muscles, arms and neck. Even just
A few minutes each day will allow her to work all her upper body muscles, gain better control of her head and movement, and improve overall stability. Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Joanne Cox, says “"Tummy time helps your infant build strength in his back, legs, arms, and neck. This helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting."
Best Time to Begin Introducing Tummy Time
You can begin introducing tummy time to an infant as young as 2 weeks old. Most parents do this inadvertently while bonding with their newborn across their chest. It’s also the time most parents get spit up on! You can try placing your baby on specially designed, clean tummy mats each day to also get them used to it. Setting aside time after a bath or some play time in the morning helps maintain a regular scheduled and also can help “wear” them about some for a nap. "Many babies don't enjoy tummy time at first, but gradually get comfortable on their stomachs as they build up strength, says pediatrician Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411. "It takes some work to lift that head up and it isn't always fun," she says. "It's a workout."
Why it’s important to Schedule Regular Tummy Time
Over the years, there has been growing and credible concern over SIDS “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” and the consensus among most experts is that it’s safest for babies to sleep on their backs. There has also been the risk and fear of spitting up and the potential to choke while on their backs. Thus, Tummy Time is now something we should be making time for given they have fewer opportunities without it.
It’s also a great way to allow your baby to “explore”. Tummy Time mats create a more exciting and distracting way for your baby to get used to it and actually enjoy that time. If you’ve ever simply set your baby down on their stomach with nothing to stimulate them, you’ll often find they fuss and start to cry. In fact, they don’t much care for it at first at all! But not to worry, they will get used to it and having something to entertain them can help them to adjust much more quickly.
Another Benefit of Tummy Time
Tummy time encourages your baby to begin exercising those skills essential when learning to crawl. There has been research demonstrating lack of this time can also delay certain developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting up and lifting their head. We’ve also seen babies with that flat back of their head and hair missing from being on their backs all the time. While this seems harmless enough, in some cases it’s been known to cause permanent flattening and distortion of facial features.
Guideline to Schedule Times and Expectations
Below is just a guide and you may gauge better on how little or how much time your baby needs.
Age 2 months – set a goal for three 5 minutes daily sessions on a safe surface. You may want to put some cushioning around your baby, especially at first, with a blanket or favorite soft toy to help them feel most secure and while getting adjusted.
Age 3 months – your baby should be quite familiar with this activity by now and even starting to lift his chest off the floor. They will kick, arch their backs and likely have been starting to, if not already, rolling over.
Overtime, set a goal of at least 15 minutes of tummy time each day. By about the age of 6 months, you will likely no longer need to dedicate time for this activity. Your baby will also be well on their way, and developmentally strong enough, for bigger baby milestones!