For infants, lying on their stomachs is an essential part of their development. For newborns, tummy time is of utmost importance since it contributes to the development of their motor skills1.
Tummy time helps to build the muscles and coordination needed for rolling over, reaching for objects, crawling, cruising, walking, and exploring. As you can see, tummy time provides various benefits for the baby’s general growth and development. It is vital to understand the dos and don’ts of newborn tummy time for their safety and comfort. It empowers parents and caregivers to make their baby’s environment compassionate and interesting while still respecting his or her particular needs and limitations.
By adhering to the guidelines established by healthcare professionals, you may gain the benefits of tummy time for newborns while minimizing the risks. Continue reading to learn more.
How Soon Do You Start Tummy Time With A Newborn?
Tummy time is an essential activity for newborns because it promotes their physical development and strengthens their muscles. In the first week after the baby returns home from the hospital, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting tummy time2.
The best course of action might be to hold off until her/his umbilical stump falls off. Are you curious why it is advised to place the newborn on his or her tummy too soon? This is because babies who practice tummy time frequently report enjoying it more in the long run. Tummy time also feels incredibly natural to a newborn.
Related Reading: Baby Milestones – The 3rd Month
You should not push your baby to do tummy time if they are fussy, though. At first, tummy time sessions may be brief and frequent, lasting only 2 to 3 minutes, several times per day. You can gradually lengthen each session as your baby develops and feels more at ease. Do you know many mothers effectively use tummy time for gas issues in newborns? Tummy time can help relieve gas discomfort in infants.
- Up until one month old, two or three sessions per day, one minute at a time, are enough. Aim to increase your daily time by 10 to 15 minutes3
- It should be 15 to 30 minutes for infants who are 1-2 months old4
- It should be 30 to 60 minutes for 3 months5
- Aim for 60 to 90 minutes of belly time for children 4 months and older6
Tummy Time Dos And Don’ts For Newborns (1-3 Months)
During the first few months of an infant’s life, tummy time is a crucial activity as it aids in the development of muscles and fosters motor skills. Even though lying on their stomachs can be very beneficial for newborn babies, parents, and other caregivers need to know what the dos and don’ts are when it comes to tummy time for newborn babies.
While there are many advantages to tummy time, parents and other caregivers must be aware of the dos and don’ts. The following is a list of tummy time dos and don’ts. If you follow these recommendations, you will be able to provide your baby with a happy and safe tummy time and reap the benefits that come along with it.
Tummy Time Do’s:
- Talk to a doctor: Consult your doctor before beginning tummy time, particularly if there were any difficulties during labor or delivery
- Begin as early as possible: Tummy time can usually be started within the first few days of a baby’s birth.Early exposure to tummy time helps develop their neck, back, and shoulder muscles. It also aids in preventing flat spots on the back of the baby’s head7
- Tummy time should be introduced slowly: Instead of rushing, try to put the baby on their stomach gradually when they are alert and well-rested. Begin with brief sessions of 2 to 5 minutes, and as your baby feels more at ease, gradually lengthen the time
- Supervise closely: Keep an eye on your baby during tummy time to ensure their safety and to offer assistance if necessary. Put them somewhere safe and level, such as a play mat or a blanket on the floor, far from any dangers. Tummy time with your baby on your chest is a good idea. Simply recline, then put your infant on top of you. The baby will enjoy tummy time when he or she is so close to the face of their favorite person
- Create a firm surface: To encourage correct muscular development, place your infant on a level, hard surface. The ideal surface is warm, dry, and firm. The use of pillows, cushions, or soft mattresses should be avoided since they raise the possibility of SID due to suffocation. A place other than the floor could also work. Some infants like to spend their belly time on a table or an exercise ball so they can see everything around them from an entirely new angle
- Interact with your child: Your child does not have to exercise alone; you may participate as well. To keep your infant amused and motivated, get down on the floor with them and play, interact, sing, or use toys. The infant will realize that he has company. Your presence and involvement during tummy time will make it more enjoyable and stimulating for your child
- Utilize toys that are age-appropriate for tummy time: To get your baby to lift their heads, reach out, and develop their motor skills, place bright, baby-safe toys or objects within their reach. In addition to helping with physical development, tummy time stimulates the brain and the senses. Understanding tummy time milestones is important as it allows parents to introduce age-appropriate toys. Toys with interesting textures, sounds, or bright colors can also enhance their sensory experience
- You can try different positions: Try different tummy time positions for newborns. To work for different muscle groups, experiment with different positions. To give your baby a different angle so they can try to raise their elbows, you could, for example, place a towel or cushion rolled up under their chest. Changing their postures often will encourage them to spend more time on their stomachs
- Provide some extra support: If your baby needs additional help during tummy time, use your other hand to support their back and neck. For infants who adamantly oppose any form of tummy time, this is a great place to start. Similarly, if the baby doesn’t want to lie flat on their stomach, you might try initially raising them using a nursing cushion under their chest. This may aid in keeping them in a relaxed position while allowing them to gradually gain strength. For additional support, you may use your own body as a customized tummy time mat for your baby. Make the baby lie down on its stomach over your lap. Give them a hand rub on the back or a few gentle, rhythmic pats
- Be consistent: Consistency is the key to success when it comes to tummy time for newborn babies. To encourage healthy development and ward off some problems, regular tummy time is crucial. Aim for several quick tummy time sessions throughout the day to give your child lots of opportunities to practice and grow their muscles. Make it a habit to do it every day
- Observe cues and adjust: Keep a close eye on your baby’s cues while they are on their stomach. If they start to fuss or exhibit signs of discomfort, try other approaches to make it more enjoyable for them. Change the surroundings, use different toys, or, for example, change the length and frequency of the sessions
Related Reading: Tummy Time Milestones By Month
Tummy Time Don’ts:
- Don’t leave your baby unattended: When your baby is having tummy time, always be there. Never let your infant spend tummy time alone. They may grow fatigued, uncomfortable, or accidentally roll onto their faces, or they may get into a perilous posture, increasing the risk of suffocation. Always keep a tight eye on them
- Don’t make the baby do tummy time on soft surfaces: For tummy time, you should position your infant on a solid, flat surface. Pillows, cushions, and soft mattresses should be avoided since they might cause suffocation. Stick on safe, level surfaces
- Don’t have tummy time when the baby is hungry or tired: Babies follow their schedule, and usually, you will be able to tell when they are hungry and when they would rather take a nap. Make sure you do not attempt tummy time during this time, as they will likely not be cooperative. Instead, plan it for when your little one is feeling up for it and is alert and attentive
- Avoid distractions: Tummy time is an important time for the baby to explore their own body and limitations and to push the boundaries. So ensure they are in a calm, peaceful environment that is conducive to the activity. Avoid loud noises, bright lights, etc.
- Avoid doing it for too long: Tummy time is something that should be introduced gradually. The younger they are, the shorter it should be. As they grow older and more able, you can increase tummy time. But, especially at the beginning, prolonged sessions of tummy time can lead to discomfort and easily tire them out. So make sure you do not stretch it out for too long
- Don’t have tummy time right after feeding: When you give your baby tummy time after feeding, the baby tends to grow uncomfortable. It can also increase the chances of the baby spitting up the milk. Make sure you have given the baby enough time for the food to settle. It is recommended that you wait for at least 20 minutes. And do not forego tummy time because of this! Despite the chance of spitting up, this position is known to be good for the digestion process. Just make sure you do it at the right time
- Don’t force it: Babies need to grow up with some amount of autonomy so that they can learn to be independent. Babies usually know what they want and will communicate if they are uncomfortable, upset, or simply do not want to do something. They may fuss, cry, or become agitated. If they do, keep calm and try again later. Ensure the environment is peaceful and comfortable
- Don’t compare your baby with others: Every baby is unique. Each one grows and develops at its own pace. Do not jump to conclusions if your baby is not making as much progress during tummy time as other babies. Your baby will reach their milestones in their own time. All you need to do is encourage them and provide a good environment
- Don’t give up: While it is important to accept and go along with your baby’s preferences, keep in mind that they need to have tummy time at some point. They may be resistant at first, and may not like the new position, but you must keep trying. Be patient and consistent, and ensure the surroundings are optimal. Eventually, the little one will adjust and start making progress
- Avoid restricting the baby’s movements: The main purpose of tummy time is not for your baby to play around or rest, but to develop their motor skills. This is a time when most of the groundwork for their mobility and muscle coordination is laid. Ensure that there are no objects or props nearby or on them that can restrict their movements and make it difficult for them to move freely
Tummy time is one of the most important activities to do with your little one in the early stages of infancy. All later physical milestones, like rolling over, crawling, and taking their first steps, have their roots in the progress achieved during tummy time.
You can encourage your baby’s growth and development by providing adequate opportunities for tummy time in a safe and calm environment. Do not wait too long to start, and introduce it to them gradually. Make sure you follow the dos and don’ts to ensure your baby’s happy, safe, and smooth progress and motor development.