Aim for a total of about one hour per day by the time your baby is two months, broken into smaller chunks of time throughout the day. Take note of these seven tummy time tips, and little by little your baby’s muscles will get stronger!
1. Back to sleep
Spending time on her tummy while she is awake is important for your baby. However, you should always put her to sleep on her back. This position reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Fortunately, worldwide, the number of SIDS cases has fallen in the past 30 years. Always place your baby on her back for sleeping to help prevent SIDS.
2. Start young
Even when she’s a fragile newborn, tummy time can help your baby slowly strengthen her head, neck, and shoulder muscles. She’ll need these strong muscles to develop certain motor skills, like crawling.
3. Choose your moments
Your baby is more likely to enjoy tummy time when she’s alert. In the early days this won’t happen very often so seize the opportunities as they come. After a diaper change or when your baby first wakes up from a nap are usually great times. If she’s tired, hungry, or fussy, don’t pressure her. Give her a nap, feeding if hungry, or a song while holding her, then try again later. Make time every day for tummy time.
4. Prepare for action
It may be hard to imagine with your tiny baby, but she will eventually learn to roll over, crawl, and sit up by herself. Research has indicated that babies who spend more time on their stomachs may roll over, crawl, and sit up earlier than babies who don’t get as much time on their tummies.
5. Reduce head pressure
Tummy time plays an important role in the shape of your baby’s head. Spending too long on her back can cause the back of your baby’s head to flatten. Spending longer periods of time each day on her tummy will help lessen the pressure on the back of her soft skull.
6. Stay close
Never leave your baby alone while she is on her tummy. Her mouth or nose could be covered accidentally, which may put her at risk of suffocating.
7. Support her
When your baby is a newborn and has very little head control she may need a little help to learn this skill. Place a rolled-up blanket or other support underneath her chest and armpits to give her a helping lift. Once your baby is older and stronger, and is more comfortable with tummy time, lay a blanket on the floor and place your baby on her stomach with her arms out in front of her. Or you could hold your baby on your chest as you recline on a couch or pillows for some great bonding and tummy time in one!
https://www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm (Accessed January 9 2017)
American Academy of Pediatrics. Back to sleep, tummy to play. 2011
https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Back-to-Sleep-Tummy-to-Play.aspx (Accessed December 29 2016)
Kuo YL, Liao HF, Chen PC et al. The influence of wakeful prone positioning on motor development during the early life. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2008; 29(5):367-76.