What is tummy time? How does it help a baby?

Tummy time is a great way to help your baby develop muscles for crawling

Mother playing face to face with baby son on floor during tummy time.

Exercise for babies? Yes! Your baby needs opportunities to lie on their stomach while you talk and play together. Have baby do this several times a day. Babies need daily tummy time until they can crawl.

Why tummy time?

  • Strengthens your baby’s neck and upper back muscles.
  • Allows your baby to discover a new view of the world.
  • Prevents the back of your baby’s head from developing flat spots.
  • Allows your baby to master lifting their head and turning over.
  • Helps your baby develop the muscle strength to begin to roll over, crawl, and sit without support.
  • Encourages your baby to practice reaching and pivoting which are skills needed to learn how to crawl.

 Tummy time for newborns:

  • Simply place your baby belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes.
  • Increase the time your baby spends on their tummy as your baby grows.
  • Listen to your baby’s cues of crying or being restless. These are ways your baby lets you know they have had enough tummy time.

 Tummy time for 3-4-month-old babies:

  • Most babies at this age can tolerate tummy time for five to 10 minutes at a time.
  • By this age, your baby will have better neck strength and control to lift and turn their head while lying down.
  • By 4 months, baby should be able to lift their chest off the floor and lean on their elbows while holding their head upright.

Tummy time tips:

  • Provide your baby a blanket or play mat to lie on.
  • Avoid tummy time right after feeding to prevent your baby from spitting up.
  • Your baby loves to see you. Get on the floor and be face-to-face while playing together.
  • Make tummy time a bonding time. Try silly noises, singing songs or making facial expressions.
  • A mirror in front of your baby can hold their attention. Babies love to look at faces.
  • Put a toy just within your baby’s reach and encourage your baby to reach and stretch for it.
  • Place your baby on their tummy for one or two minutes after every diaper change.
  • Never leave your baby unattended during tummy time.

Work up to a full hour a day by the time your baby is 3 months old. Sprinkle a few minutes of tummy time throughout the day to make sure baby is meeting their important developmental milestones.

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Posted In Children's, Digestive Health, Parenting, Specialty Care