What are the benefits?
Improves motor development
Tummy time is a great way to build your baby’s neck, back, and core muscles. Building these muscles will help them reach developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, and crawling.
Encourages play with hands
Giving your baby colorful toys during tummy time will encourage them to reach for and grab. This will help your baby develop their fine motor skills.
Prevents flatness on your baby’s head
Since your baby sleeps a lot and they are on their back a lot, it is important to keep changing the position of your baby to prevent these flat spots from occurring.
Increases visual stimulation
Giving your baby a chance to be on their tummy will give them a new view on the world to see and a different perspective from being on their backs.
When? You can start as soon as you get home! Starting out, your baby may become easily tired and upset by tummy time. This is completely normal! See below for helpful tips to make tummy time enjoyable.
How? You can begin your tummy time by placing your baby on your tummy while you lie on your back or sit reclined in a chair. If you are feeling sleepy, DO NOT do tummy time. Begin with short time intervals such as 3 to 5 minutes, twice a day. As your baby gets stronger, tummy time can gradually increase to about 40 to 60 minutes, multiple times a day. Pay attention to signs of tiredness. Some of these include irritability, resting head on surface, clenched fist or finger splaying, jerking arm/leg movements, and grunting. Make it fun! Spread out toys, lay on your tummy facing the baby, storytelling, place a mirror in front of your baby, place baby on different types of surfaces to experience different sensations, or play music.
What about in the NICU? You may do tummy time with your NICU baby once your baby’s nurse, doctor or Physical Therapist says it is okay. You and the baby must be alert (awake)! Tummy time can be done while you are holding the baby or in the baby’s crib.
- Only do this when your baby is awake and alert. If your baby becomes drowsy, remember to place them on their back for sleeping.
- Always supervise your baby when doing tummy time.