May 08 , 2020
Should you let your baby lie on his back all day? Definitely not. Studies have shown that babies who lie only on their backs or sides all day experience slow motor skills development and abnormal head-shape growth.
But wait! Don’t babies suffocate when they lie on their stomachs? Well yes…but only when they’re asleep and unsupervised. Allowing your baby to lie on their stomach under your watchful eye helps strengthen their neck muscles and ensures that their head grows without too many flat spots.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends tummy time for optimum growth and development. Your baby might not like this physical activity at first, but they’ll be sure to stop fussing over it in no time.
What’s Tummy Time?
The AAP defines tummy time as “awake prone positioning on the floor that is encouraged and supervised by an adult.” In other words, tummy time refers to the time that a baby spends playing and relaxing while lying on his or her stomach. Letting your baby enjoy at least thirty minutes of tummy time a day ensures that he or she develops good head control, better motor skills, as well as stronger neck and shoulder muscles.
When Do I Start?
You can start engaging in tummy time with your baby even while you’re still in the hospital. The earlier you expose your child to tummy time, the easier it will be for them to get used to lying in the prone position. Placing your baby against your stomach or chest while you’re awake and comfortable makes for a wonderful and precious bonding activity, so do make the most out of it! Speak in a lively tone and pitch, play around with funny faces and hand gestures, and just have lots of fun while bonding for the first time.
How Long Should Tummy Time Last?
Tummy time doesn’t mean getting your baby to lie on his stomach for thirty minutes straight. It’s much better to divide tummy time into sessions so that your baby doesn’t feel too overwhelmed or exhausted. Let your baby experience two or three sessions of tummy time a day with plenty of rest in between. Each session should last just around three to five minutes. If your baby looks like he isn’t enjoying tummy time anymore, let him rest then start again when he’s ready.
You can extend tummy time sessions as your baby grows older and more used to the activity. Try doing twenty or thirty minutes of tummy time a day with your baby once he’s already 3 or 4 months old. Longer tummy times are a must for older babies since they need more time to build their strength.
How Do I Do Tummy Time?
- Set up a safe tummy time environment: Your baby will need to lie on a soft and safe surface. Playmats are definitely perfect for the job. Blankets also work fine, though you’ll need to make sure that they don’t get loose while your baby moves around. You can also let your baby lie on your lap or against your stomach and chest.
- Come up with fun exercises: Tummy time and naptime aren’t the same. Your aim here is to get your baby to exercise his muscles and learn to move, so do engage in fun tummy time exercises with him as much as possible. Toys are a great tool to use for this.
- Make adjustments: Your baby might not always like being in a certain position. If your baby looks rather grumpy or tired, you can give him a break and let him lie on his side or back.
Fun Tummy Time Exercises To Try
- Stimulation is key to tummy time. According to the AAP, one great way to exercise during tummy time is to keep either a toy or yourself out of your baby’s reach. When your baby tries his best to reach for you or the toy during playtime, he will get to move a lot and use various muscles.
- You can also try surrounding your baby with a circle of toys during tummy time. Your baby will get to develop the muscles needed to roll over, crawl, and scoot on his belly while he reaches for different toys in the circle.
- Tummy time doesn’t have to be exhausting. You can simply lie on your back and place your baby against your tummy or chest. Your baby can exercise and strengthen his neck muscles and arms while he tries to look at and reach for your face.
- Tummy time can also be a fun group activity. Toddlers and older kids can play with your baby while they’re lying on their tummies. Not only will this ensure healthy muscle and motor skills development, but it will also build a stronger bond between your baby and older family members.