“Tummy time” is a term designated for the intentional moment the baby lays face and tummy down, and is very encouraged by the experts due to having multiple physical benefits also, very important to strengthen the muscles of the back and neck. It will also help with sitting without support, crawling, and walking in the future.
We know that many parents are afraid of letting their babies have tummy time due to sudden death syndrome, however, it is important to note tummy time must be done when the baby is awake, supervised, and only a few minutes at a time.
Stimulates motor coordination
Children begin to control their bodies from top to bottom because the muscular development starts at the neck, then comes the trunk, hip, and, finally, the legs. When they lay on their tummy, the baby will need to raise their neck to see things around, using the forearms as support, then using the hands until they are able to pick up the objects. These steps are also an early preparation to begin crawling and activating that motor coordination.
What is the best way to do tummy time?
In the first few weeks, start by placing them on your chest for a few seconds and eventually move it to the floor. Shoot for one minute and gradually increase it as you observe that your baby can support their head and muscles are stronger. Respect your baby’s time – it is natural that your baby doesn’t feel comfortable in the first few tries. If it bothers them much, you can always get back to your chest, or belly, so he is facing you.
When your baby starts to enjoy tummy time and has managed to stay longer than a few minutes, start using it as playtime. Choose a quiet place of the house, put their favorite toys around them in the form of a circle. Don’t put him in bed or cot, because they are too soft for support. Observe all of their movements, and if their body is enduring as well. Change locations and blankets so your baby can see new things and touch new textures. Change positions when they get tired and as they grow older, start placing their toys further and further, so your baby is encouraged to reach for them.
You can start by doing tummy time twice a day and when your baby starts to feel more secure and comfortable, increase the frequency. Again, never let your child sleep in this position, or stay on their stomach without your monitoring. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sleeping on their back decreases by 70% the risk of death by asphyxiation.