Tummy Time for Baby – A Complete Guide

Your baby might have a variety of reactions when they are placed face-down on the floor. They might hate tummy-time because until they develop the necessary neck muscles to lift their heads, they do an awkward face-plant into the floor. And then they will let you know they are very unhappy.

Some babies are happy as pie. Some babies are indifferent and are happy no matter what position they are in. Whatever your baby’s reaction, tummy time is an essential part of their development.

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What is Tummy Time?

Essentially it is your baby’s first workout. You place your baby on their tummy to play and to develop muscles.

Tummy time helps your little one to develop the muscles. Muscles that are necessary to lift their head as well as core muscles that will help them to eventually crawl, stand, and walk.

The Benefits of Tummy Time:

Helps to Prevent Flat Spots

Your newborn is pretty much always laying on the back of your head, so tummy time helps to prevent any potential flat spots.

Works Various Muscles

Tummy time allows your baby to work muscles in their arms, shoulders, upper back and that all lead to your baby being able to lift their head. It also works core muscles.

This sets the stage for your baby to learn how to roll over, lift their head, crawl, stand, walk, and run. Tummy time helps your baby develop so they can learn critical skills.

When Should Tummy Time Start?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tummy time should start when your newborn comes home from the hospital. Obviously, your newborn won’t be able to be on their tummy very long. But little by little they’ll get stronger and be able to last longer and longer.

How Long Should my Baby do Tummy Time Every Day?

Eventually your baby should be doing tummy time 2-3 times a day lasting 3-5 minutes at a time. Your baby will need to walk up to this amount. As your baby gets older, they need longer stretches on their belly so they can build strength.

How do You do Tummy Time?

Now that you know what tummy time is, why it is important, when it should start, and how long it should last, let’s talk about how to do tummy time. The ideal time is when your baby is at their most alert, so right after a diaper change or when your baby wakes up from a nap. Don’t do tummy time when your baby has a full stomach or you end up with spit upon you.

Place your baby somewhere safe. A couch or a bed could be dangerous, so the floor is an ideal spot. Place your baby on their belly either on a playmat or a blanket. Make sure you are not only staying right by your baby, you are constantly watching them and are not distracted by anything.

Surround your baby with a few of their favorite toys. Which will help them enjoy tummy time or at least tolerate it if they aren’t really a fan.

What to do if Your Baby Hates Tummy Time

A lot of babies hate tummy time at first (which is understandable because who would want their face awkwardly squashed into the ground). But over time most babies begin to tolerate tummy time and some even enjoy it as they build the muscles required to lift their heads.

You can make tummy time less tortuous for your baby by:

Switching Up Locations

A change of scenery can make tummy time more tolerable.

Try Several Stints a Day

At first, aim for 1-2 minutes a day and work up to longer stretches.

Switch Up the Toys

Sometimes having new toys to play with will help your baby forget about their displeasure because they have something new and exciting to play with.

Move to Your Baby’s Level

Getting down on the ground and being eye-level with your baby all the while talking to them can give them the reassurance and encouragement that they need. It can help them to like tummy time more.

Use Plastic Mirrors

You baby will probably try to lift their head in order to see their reflection.

Tummy Time Safety

It’s important to be vigilant when your baby is practicing tummy time. If your baby falls asleep on their tummy, don’t leave them on their tummy. Roll them over to their back. It is much safer for them.

Wrapping Up

Tummy time should be a vital part of your baby’s routine so they can gain the necessary strength in order to meet important milestones.

Have you started tummy time with your baby? How do you baby feel about tummy time?

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