Tummy time: what it is, how to get organized and what are the benefits

Tummy time is the time in which the awake baby is placed on the tummy for a short period of time.

Babies sleep a lot and, as you probably already know, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) they should always be put to sleep on their backs.

But during the day it is also appropriate to let him look at the world from a completely different point of view: lying on his stomach. In addition to giving them the opportunity to have a different point of view on the world, tummy time also helps them with head and neck development and helps them strengthen their head, neck, arms and shoulders.

You can also start giving him tummy time the day you bring him home from the hospital, by placing him on your chest. Start with just a few minutes a few times a day. As your baby grows, he will be able to stay on his tummy for a longer period of time. Remember that during tummy time the baby must be constantly supervised.

The benefits of tummy time

Tummy time is important for baby development because:

  • it helps him develop strong neck and shoulder muscles
  • promotes gross motor skills
  • may help prevent flat head syndrome
  • helps your child develop the strength needed to roll over, sit up, crawl and eventually walk.

How to do tummy time

Place your baby on his tummy when he’s awake, perhaps after a diaper change, bath, or nap. However, you should avoid tummy time right after eating: For some babies, lying on their tummy when it’s full can disrupt digestion, and this could produce gas or vomiting.

The traditional way to start tummy time is to spread a blanket or mat on the floor in a clear, flat area and simply lay your baby on their tummy.

Start with 1-3 minutes and gradually increase each day or at least each week.

Do this up to three times a day. It’s important to make time for tummy time every day.

You can also try using a breastfeeding pillow if your baby seems to like it: Place the pillow on the floor on top of a blanket, then place your baby on his tummy on top of the pillow, with his arms and shoulders resting on top.

Make sure you keep an eye on baby at all times. and reposition him if he starts sliding down the pillow.

During tummy time you can put toys (as long as they are age-appropriate) within reach of the baby. You can also read him a story or put a book with pictures at eye level for him to look at – this could also help him develop his vision. You can also lie down or sit on the floor next to him.

If he starts to look sleepy put him flat on his back in the crib. This is the safest way and place for him to sleep.

Length of tummy time based on age

In the beginning, newborn babies can only tolerate tummy time for 1 or 2 minutes. After the first weeks of life, they easily tolerate fifteen minutes.

Some babies really hate tummy time at first, especially if you wait too long to try it. Eventually, your baby may get used to tummy time and will tolerate it more.

When your baby is 5-6 months old, he will probably roll over from front to back. They will then spring forward and may even be able to push themselves up to a sitting position. You can still give them the opportunity to spend time on their tummies after they reach these developmental stages. Tummy time can help them continue to build the muscles needed to:

  • sitting for longer periods of time
  • crawling
  • walking

When tummy time is not recommended

In rare cases, tummy time may not be safe, such as if your baby:

  • was born premature
  • have a disability or mental health condition
  • have reflux disease

If you’re not sure if tummy time is right for your little one, talk to your baby’s pediatrician.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *