updated, Sept 15 2023 – Parents often hear about the importance of tummy time, yet overwhelmingly report their babies don’t want to do it! Tummy Time Troubles Solved has tips to help baby enjoy tummy time.
Newborns and infants often seem uncomfortable with being placed on their bellies when they’re awake, so why do we do it? Babies spend a LOT of time sleeping. And since it’s been proven that placing babies on their backs to sleep for the first year is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of SIDS, they also spend a LOT of time on their backs. Because of this, we need to give newborns and infants opportunities to exercise their next and shoulder muscles. Stronger muscles = healthier and safer babies!
So yes, tummy time is your baby’s workout and just like us, sometimes they don’t feel like working out! With slight but important adjustments though, infants can have comfortable, yet productive play and exercise.
Infant expert Terri Lee Weatherholtz, M.A, CCC-SLP, CDA says: “the time an infant is awake on the floor should consist of 50% back and 50% tummy time.” There’s no exact rules on when to begin tummy time sessions with your baby. Chances are it’s something you and your baby are doing together naturally anyway! As a guideline however, the NIH says you can start with 3-5 minute sessions 2-3 days after baby is born, and this is an accepted rule of thumb.
Tummy Time Troubles Solved – Steps for Success
- Roll a thin baby blanket long ways (no more than 3-4 inches thick)
- Place it on the floor
- Place your baby, tummy down, on the blanket so that his arms are out in front of him on one side of the blanket. His chest (nipple level) should be resting on the blanket with the sides of the blanket under his arms. Makes sure his neck is not on the blanket! This little lift redistributes his weight backwards off his tummy and makes tummy time a little more comfortable. You want his arms out front bearing weight.
- With an open hand stroke firmly from the back of their head all the way down to their tush. This stimulates the muscle that helps them raise their head!
- Get down on the floor for some face to face time and encourage head lifting with smiles and talking!
Another way to help tummy time be a fun activity is to lay on your back with baby on your chest, so you’re face to face. With a gentle hold on baby for safety of course, baby will be motivated to look “up” at your face.
It’s perfectly fine if tummy time only lasts 5 minutes or less some days. Eventually continuing the routine a few times a day for longer periods though, helps your baby equate “tummy time” with happy, social time. For answers to more early care questions, visit our new parent resources.
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