Tummy Time: How To & Benefits

In the 90’s the campaign “back to sleep” decreased SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) by over fifty percent. Now, parents understand the importance of babies lying flat on their backs on a firm mattress to sleep. But this has brought about a new challenge in the baby world, plegiocephaly, which means “flat head”. Forty-seven percent of all babies experience some degree of a flat head. This happens because because the baby lies in one position and their skull bones are soft, flattening the back or the sides of their head. It is usually just cosmetic and is not known to cause developmental delays.

The remedy?

Tummy time. The problem is lots of babies do not enjoy tummy time. Taking a baby off of their back is important for avoiding flat spots, and for neck and shoulder strength. Additionally, placing your baby on her belly for play will allow her to move back and forth which will help with balance and control. Research shows that tummy time develops coordination and can help your baby roll and crawl sooner.

Here are some ideas to make tummy time easier.

Tummy time can start right when baby is born. Doing skin to skin with your baby is essentially tummy time! Rest your own head against a pillow and look down and speak to your baby- a brand new baby can lift his head and will when he hears the sound of your voice.

Lay your new baby across your legs to burp him. This is the perfect solution for getting those pesky burps out and strengthening your babies neck.

Use an exercise ball. Sit on the floor and gently (and carefully) lay your baby across the ball. The soft curve of the ball is soothing to the baby. Have your partner get down on his knees and talk to the baby- this will encourage her to lift her head to the sound of his voice. Slowly increase the time your baby is in tummy time. 2-5 minutes a day is enough for a newborn, but by four months 20-30 minutes per day is perfect.

For older babies (two months and up), set up a mirror against a wall and place your breastfeeding pillow in front of it. Lay your baby upright on the breastfeeding pillow facing the mirror. Babies love to look at themselves (and you!) in the mirror! Get down on the floor and talk to her through the mirror. It is adorable watching them smile at themselves!

Babies need to feel close! Setting them down on the floor to do tummy time without you may last a couple minutes, but it will extend longer if you get down there too! They need to interact at even this young age, and he will learn to love tummy time if you also participate.