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Why is tummy time important?

baby on his tummy in a park

Key points:
1. Tummy time aids muscle development for crawling and milestones.
2. Start tummy time soon after birth, gradually increasing duration.
3. Ensure comfort during tummy time; use toys and mirrors.
4. Encourage tummy time with interactive activities and variety.

Did you know that research suggests that babies who spend time on their tummies crawl earlier than babies who don’t?

Find out why tummy time is so important for your baby and get tips on how to encourage it!

Why is it so important?

Tummy time will help your baby develop the neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to accomplish most of the physical milestones, like lifting their head, crawling, and pulling themselves up to stand.

While your baby is on their tummy, they’ll have to develop some muscle strength because they’ll have to push up, turn their neck, and move around a bit to explore their surroundings. Tummy time helps prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play!

When should your baby start tummy time?

Start implementing it soon after birth; you can even include it as part of your baby’s daily routine. Start by laying your newborn on their tummy across your lap two or three times a day for a few minutes. Not all babies like being in this position, but your child must spend some time on their belly, even if it’s for less than a minute.

As your baby gets used to tummy time, place them on their stomach more frequently or for longer periods. Over time they will be able to stay in this position for 10 to 15 minutes. As your baby grows stronger, place them on a blanket on the floor after a diaper change or nap. You can place a few toys within their reach, so they have something to play with or even a plastic mirror to look at.

It’s important to never leave your baby unattended during tummy time. If your little one becomes fussy, change the activity and, after a while, try again. Here are a few activities you can try to make tummy time fun! 

Your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time? Try out these tips!

  • Before putting them in this position, make sure your baby’s diaper is clean and they’re not hungry or sleepy. You want them to be as comfortable as possible.
  • It is also good to wait a while after eating; this position may be a little bit uncomfortable with a full stomach.
  • Join your baby and lay down beside them. It is important that they feel accompanied ーmake some funny faces, talk to them, or even sing their favorite song!
  • Place a plastic mirror on the floor while your baby is on their stomach. They will be able to see their reflection as they look down. Usually, babies are very entertained with their reflection, so yours will love it!
  • You can always try different positions! Try placing a pillow under their chest, laying them over a breastfeeding donut, putting their arms in front of them or up to their chest. Try different positions until you find the one where your baby is most comfortable.

Remember that the more time your baby spends on their tummy, the earlier they might begin to roll over, crawl on their stomach, crawl on all fours, and sit without support; leading to greater exploration of their surroundings and healthy brain development!


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