Tummy Time Tips
As a new mom, I know how overwhelming bringing home your baby can be. You are given so many instructions, pieces of advice, and ideas for you and baby to fill your days. One thing that everyone hears, whether from a pediatrician, well meaning friend, or social media, is “Tummy Time.” With a newborn, tummy time can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be! From the time you bring your baby home, until they are walking and beyond, tummy time offers a great space for strengthening, visual integration, and begins to build a foundation needed for future gross motor skills.
It is recommended that infants complete at least one hour of tummy time per day¹. While this seems like a long time, it can be broken up into smaller increments. Any little bit counts! When your baby is still a newborn, it is often easiest to do a few minutes at a time, which will add up quickly. Varying the chosen positions while in tummy time also helps to break up the time and makes it more tolerable on everyone. Below are some ideas for an enjoyable tummy time for all!
Newborn to 3 months:
· Place baby on your chest and recline back as tolerated. Chances are, you are already doing this form of tummy time during your day. As baby’s tolerance improves, you can try laying all the way back for an added challenge.
· Elevated on a boppy or other pillow: often, raising baby above the ground level makes it easier to lift their head, allowing them to better observe their surroundings. It also makes it easier to activate their back muscles in this position when they are young.
· Place baby on the edge of couch or bed (stay close!) and get at their eye level. Often, talking to them at eye level keeps them engaged, making tummy time more tolerable.
4 months and up:
· Water play: try placing a cookie sheet with water in front of baby with water safe toys. They will love splashing around, and it additionally offers a new tactile sensation during play.
· Mirror: while your baby may not know who they are looking at yet, they will love looking at the little person making all the faces at them in the mirror. You can try making faces and noises back at them, too!
· New objects: tummy time is the perfect time to present new objects. Everyday objects work great, such as a cup, plastic serving spoon, party beads, etc. Anything that can make new sounds and will keep attention for multiple minutes at a time is perfect.
Tummy time should always be fully supervised and babies should always be laid on their back for sleep!
– Rachael Rudy, PT, DPT