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Tummy Time Tips & Tricks

What is tummy time?

– Tummy time is the period of time during the day that your baby spends supervised and awake on their stomach.

Why does your baby need tummy time?

Helps in development of gross motor skills: Spending time on their belly helps develop muscle strength of neck, back, and shoulders that allow them to lift their head up, roll, and eventually crawl
Promotes motor development: May help prevent motor delays and conditions such as plagiocephaly (flattening of one side of the head) and torticollis (tightness of sternocleidomastoid muscle)
Promotes visual development: Encourages visual exploration of the environment as well as hand-eye coordination
Promotes sensory development: Development of tactile sense by feeling different textures on their arms and hands. Promotes body awareness and proprioception when weight shifting from arm to arm. Also assists in developing vestibular sense.

When should your baby start doing tummy time?

– Tummy time should begin as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital

How long/often does your baby need to do tummy time?

– Aim for a few minutes at a time, several times a day for newborns. As your child gains strength and tolerance to the position, you can increase the amount of tummy time they receive throughout the day.
– Your baby should be getting at least 1 hour of tummy time total throughout the day by 3 months of age.

Why does your baby dislike tummy time?

– Tummy time can be challenging for babies at first due to having to work against gravity to maintain their head in an upright position. This is a position they haven’t been in before, challenging muscles that are not yet developed
– Babies younger than 4-5 months of age may get frustrated on their belly as they do not yet have the skills to roll from their belly to their back.
– Many babies who experience reflux have poor tolerance to tummy time

How to make tummy time more tolerable/fun?

1. Modified Positions

– Place a small rolled towel/blanket or boppy under your baby’s chest (under his/her armpits)
– Place baby on their belly across your lapTummy down carry: place one hand under child's tummy and between their legs and carry the baby tummy down while still nestled close to your body
– When laying down on the floor or bed, flat or slightly propped up, place baby on your chest so that you and baby are face to face
– Tummy down carry: place one hand under child’s tummy and between their legs and carry the baby tummy down while still nestled close to your body

2. Engaging Activities

Sing songs while baby is on their tummy to calm and soothe baby – Sing songs while baby is on their tummy to calm and soothe baby
– Get down on the floor at their eye level or provide contrasting colors/toys to play and engage with. You can also turn pages in picture books to help develop visual attention and keep them interested.
– Do a few minutes of tummy time after every diaper change or every bath so that they begin to expect it in their routine

– Allie Stumbo, PT, DPT

Sources:
– Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy . (n.d.). 5 Tips for Positioning and Play to Help Your Newborn Baby’s Posture and Movement Development.
– Pin, T., Eldridge, B., & Galea, M. P. (2007). A review of the effects of sleep position, play position, and equipment use on motor development in infants. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 49(11), 858–867. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00858.x
– Tummy time for babies: In pictures. Raising Children Network. (2020, March 31). Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/play-learning/play-ideas/tummy-time.
– What you need to know about tummy time: Tummy time tips. Pathways.org. (2021, September 29). Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://pathways.org/topics-of-development/tummy-time/.