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Tummy Time: Is It Good for My Baby?

Tummy Time: Is It Good for My Baby?

Tummy time is when you put your baby on his or her stomach while awake and under supervision. This helps the baby develop a strong neck and shoulder muscles. It can also promote motor skills. Spending time on its belly can also prevent the baby from developing flat spots on the back of the head (plagiocephaly). If the baby’s head is left in the same position for an extended period of time, the bone plate of the skull will move to create a flat tip.

Tummy time also helps your baby to sit, roll, crawl, and walk.

Why Is Tummy Time Important?

Almost 15 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first recommended that parents lay their babies on their backs. This simple advice reduced the mortality rate from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by more than half. This resulted in a new problem: babies with flattened heads.

Flattening happens when a baby spends a lot of time on his back. This usually occurs behind the baby’s head and usually most noticeable on one side. This flattening can make the head and face appear wider. In severe cases, flattening can push one side of the face forward, making the baby’s appearance uneven. No one knows how common flat heads are. However, about half of babies are somewhat flattened by the age of two months. According to a 2013 article in the journal Pediatrics, only one in five people sees a serious change.

Is Tummy Time Suitable For My Baby?

Tummy time is suitable for the following:

  • Newborns and infants 1-3 months old who have just developed neck control. Tummy time helps build the muscles needed to roll, sit, crawl, and walk. Always stay with your baby while doing tummy time.
  • Older babies, 4-7 months. Even if they can roll over and sit with help, they still need to spend time under supervision while on their stomachs. Tummy time helps to lift the head and chest high by stretching the arms. Strengthens the muscles of the arms, chest and back.
  • Newborn babies with torticollis. Torticollis is a neck condition when the neck muscles become tight and the baby can’t turn his head. Tummy time encourages the baby to look around and helps relax the baby’s neck muscles, along with exercises recommended by a doctor.
  • Babies with flathead syndrome (plagiocephaly). This happens when the baby spends too much time on his back during the first few months of his life. This can result in flat spots on the sides or back of the head.

How Do I Do Tummy Time With My Baby?

Newborns

For newborns, the baby should be placed on the chest or lap 2-3 times a day and begin at the time of the abdomen. While lying on their stomach, the baby can lift their head and exercise the neck and shoulder muscles. Once your baby gets used to it, you can let them continue for a little longer.

Older Baby

Place a blanket on a clean floor. To start, lay your baby down for 3-5 minutes. You can do this about 2-3 times a day. In this position, the baby may feel upset and frustrated. You can make the first few sessions short and gradually prolong tummy time in the succeeding sessions. If your baby feels nourished, changed, and happy, it’s also a good idea to do tummy time. As the baby gets used to it, you can put the baby on their stomach more often or longer. Experts recommend doing tummy time for about an hour a day when your baby is three months old.

You can make noises with rattles or keys so that your child looks up and gets up. Place your favorite toys in front of your baby to get them to move forward.

Baby with Torticollis or Flat Spot

This exercise is suitable for babies with torticollis and flat spots. This helps treat both problems. Place your baby on your lap so that it rests on your stomach. Your baby’s head should be facing away from you. Then talk and sing with your baby. Encourage your child to look back and look at you. Do this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes.

Important Reminders

  • Always stay with your baby when doing tummy time.
  • You can only do tummy time when the baby is awake and under supervision.
  • To prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), always lay your baby on his back during sleep.
  • Spend tummy time in a low and safe place.
  • Do not put your baby on the sofa or bed, where they may roll off. Pillows and soft surfaces may also suffocate them.
  • If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, add a little variety. Go down on the floor, sing songs, place colorful toys, or look your baby into their eyes. Ask your family to join in.
  • Doing tummy time with your baby is important, though they need a little more time to get used to it.

Learn more about Baby’s First Year here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Fred Layno Updated Oct 19
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran