Generally I write and talk about play for toddlers and preschool students, but play begins early on in a child’s life. Tummy Time is one of the very first play activities. I am so glad that you are here and ready to learn more about this important part of your baby’s motor development. For the sake of giving you a complete overview of Tummy Time, I have formatted this post into 5 sections: Who? What? When? Where? And Why?
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy Time is simply the time when your baby is on his/her stomach developing their core and learning how to support himself/herself. Tummy Time is recommended by pediatricians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, early interventionists and everyday parents that have experienced the successes of Tummy Time.
Who should do Tummy Time?
Tummy Time is most important with your one week to six month old. However, it is recommended that even preschoolers continue to get tummy time. Tummy Time is not an independent activity, so please be sure to be right there with your sweet baby.
Why should I have my child do Tummy Time?
Tummy Time is important for motor development. The real push for Tummy Time began after the launch of the “Back to Sleep” campaign, in 1994. Sadly, the Back to Sleep campaign is not when your baby sends you back to sleep after a long morning of changing and feeding! The Back to Sleep campaign was launched to prevent babies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It recommends that you lay your baby on their backs to sleep, during naps and at night. Thankfully, this has drastically reduced the number of deaths from SIDS. However, it has also caused a lack of time for babies to spend on their bellies.
When babies spend extended time on their backs, they can develop flattening of their skulls, medically called positional plagiocephaly or in parental terms, “flat head”. Additionally, babies are unable to develop strong gross motor skills when the are on their backs.
But those are the drawbacks of not doing Tummy Time. I am more of a glass full girl though, so let’s talk benefits. Tummy Time helps contract your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles, which helps build strength. It also helps them develop their sensory processes, visual perceptions and balance. At around two months, when your baby has more motor control and when toys and sensory objects are introduced, they’ll begin building problem-solving and fine motor skills as they reach for these objects. All of these skills are fundamental for crawling and walking.
When do I do Tummy Time?
When your baby is young or you are just starting, your baby may only tolerate Tummy Time for ten to twenty seconds at a time because of their little developing bodies. Tummy Time is a tough workout!
I suggest building Tummy Time into your routine. Every time you change your baby, when they wake up from a nap or any other time that you can find during the day is great. Just make sure your baby is awake and alert. You can slowly build up the length of time as your baby builds more muscle and sensory tolerance.
The goal is to increase the amount of time that your baby is spending on their stomach to help them develop their core muscles and gross motor skills. There is no such thing as too much Tummy Time. There is some debate on the recommended minimum amounts of time per day to properly develop these muscles and skills, some say twenty minutes, and others recommend two hours.
Tummy time is a great time for babies to observe the rooms around them. They can gaze up at a fan, watch the dog walk across the room and play with little objects in front of them. (P.S. Observing their surroundings IS play for babies!)
Where should I place my baby to do Tummy Time?
Usually Tummy Time is on the floor, with a soft blanket or rug, but in the very early days, it may be best to place the baby right on your chest, especially if you begin Tummy Time prior to their cord falling out. Having the extra skin-to-skin contact is great, not to mention the sweet bonding time it creates. All you have to do is lay down on your back and place the baby belly-down on your chest. This is a great activity for moms and dads.
Best of luck tummy time moms and dads!
About the Author:
Natasha, Founder of Playful by Design
Hello there. I am so glad that you have come into my playful, simplicity seeking space. I have always had an entrepreneur’s mind with an educator’s heart. I am a nature loving mama of a sweet little girl. I am also a lucky wife to my hard-working college sweetheart, Zach.
When I’m not playing with Lydia, I sneak in some work. You see, I’m a self proclaimed child development nerd. I love learning about developmental levels and how the activities and environment that we create effects our brain function. I believe that childhood should be cherished, dirt is meant to be played in and songs are meant to be sung.
I research, I consult and I pour my heart into helping others learn mindful ways to help their little ones play and grow. My focus is on helping families create a happy home through gentle habit formation, family rhythm and minimalism.
And just in case you were wondering… I can be bribed by black coffee, raspberries and salvage wood furniture.