Tummy Time for Babies - All you need to know
It’s best for babies to sleep on their backs, but they need some tummy time too! What is tummy time? Tummy time is when you place your baby on the belly while he/she is awake and under your supervision.
As a new parent, it is quite natural to have tons of questions and concerns about tummy time. When to start tummy time? How much tummy time does the baby need? What are the benefits? How to do it? and the list goes on!
Here’s everything you need to know about tummy time and more.
How does Tummy Time help your baby?
- Body Strength: Tummy Time is essential as it develops your baby’s upper body strength. It helps in muscular development and builds strength for some key infancy milestones such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling and walking.
- Prevent Flat Head Syndrome: Babies have soft bones during infancy. Sleeping on the back constantly may lead to a flat spot on your baby’s head. One of the major benefits of engaging your little one into tummy time activities is that it prevents plagiocephaly, also commonly known as Flat Head Syndrome.
- Body Posture: Regular tummy time helps in developing an appropriate body posture and makes your baby’s abdominal and chest muscles stronger.
- Coordination and movements: Giving your newborn a few minutes of tummy time everyday can go a long way. It improves your child’s head and neck balance, hand-eye coordination and visual alertness.
- Handwriting: Tummy time benefits are not limited to strengthening of the core muscles, but it also affects the baby’s gross motor and fine motor skills, shoulders and arm muscles, leading to good handwriting skills.
Your baby’s tummy time milestones
You might wonder when is the right time to start tummy time and how much tummy time does your baby need in a day. Tummy time can and should start right from the time your baby is born. You can start with a few minutes every day, gradually increasing the duration, making it a part of your baby’s daily routine.
Here's a quick guide to track your baby’s tummy time milestones.
- 0-2 months – The baby is too small to hold their neck straight in the first couple of months. Massage and Tummy Time will help in strengthening their neck muscles. At a time, try 3-5 minutes of tummy time with the baby under your supervision to help them develop their core muscles. You can do this 3-4 times a day.
- 2-4 months – At this stage, the baby is able to spend 10-15 mins on their tummy in one go. As they are gaining core strength, they are able to spend more time on their tummy. Continuing tummy time now will help them control their neck muscles and they will be able to lift their head or look left-right while lying on their tummy.
- 4-6 months – When the baby is 4-6 months old, they are able to hold their head to look up or follow the sounds or voices from left to right while lying on their tummy. Try at least 20-30 mins of tummy time a day to allow them to learn to roll over from their tummy to their back.
- 6-8 months – By now, the baby is able to support their neck. Continuing tummy time will help them independently roll over from tummy to back and vice-versa. They will be able to use their hands to support their chest up. Daily tummy time is recommended at this stage.
How to make tummy time fun for your baby?
Tummy time is essential for your baby’s overall physical strength and motor skill development. However, not all kids enjoy being on their tummies. You can try different tummy time activities and games to keep your little one engaged and make it fun and interesting for them.
- Spend quality time with baby – Tummy time can be really helpful in developing a personal bond with your baby. Recline on your back with the baby on your stomach. Sing and talk to the baby as they try to lift up head and see you.
- Play Peek-a-Boo - Babies love human faces! Lie down on your belly at eye-level with your baby. Play peek-a-boo using a blanket to promote visual alertness.
- Involve an older sibling - Place baby tummy down with a rolled up towel under their chest and lie down opposite facing the baby. Tell stories and play with the baby. Invite an older sibling or family member to join tummy time too. This will help the baby remember familiar faces.
- Play with colors – Babies get attracted to bright contrasting objects. Lay your little one on a blanket or play mat and keep bright, colorful or musical toys around. Encourage your baby to reach for the toys using hands.
- Mirror-Mirror on the wall – Mirrors can be a fun toy for babies. Try tummy time on the floor in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror and encourage baby to lift head and look in the mirror. As the baby looks in the mirror, they will start recognizing their own face and yours too!
What to do if your baby hates tummy time?
Don’t be surprised if your baby gets fussy and cranky during tummy time. Some babies do not like tummy time at first and might get restless. However, with time your baby will get comfortable and might even start liking it.
If your child gets irritable during tummy time, try to change the activity or the play area. You can also use some props, music or toys to distract the baby. Give a gentle rock, sing songs or rub the baby’s back to soothe him/her. Avoid tummy time activities right after feeding the baby. The best time for tummy time is when the baby is well-rested, alert and active.
For more brain building and skill development ideas that combine play and learn, download the KinderPass app free.
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