Tummy time can start soon after you bring your baby home from the hospital. Just don’t expect too much. At first, your newborn will struggle to lift their head even a tiny bit while on their stomach. Tummy time is hard, tiring work! A few seconds at a time, several times a day, is a great start. You can gradually increase the amount of time your baby spends on their tummy as long as they are happy and comfortable – and always be there to supervise
Aim for a total of about one hour per day by the time your baby is two months, broken into smaller chunks of time throughout the day. Take note of these seven tummy time tips, and little by little your baby’s muscles will get stronger!
- Back to sleep
Spending time on their tummy while your little one is awake is important for your baby. However, you should always put them to sleep on their back. This position reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Fortunately, worldwide, the number of SIDS cases has fallen in the past 30 years.
- Start young
Even when they are a fragile newborn, tummy time can help your baby slowly strengthen their head, neck, and shoulder muscles. They’ll need these strong muscles to develop certain motor skills, like crawling.
- Choose your moments
Your baby is more likely to enjoy tummy time when they are alert. In the early days this won’t happen very often so seize the opportunities as they come. After a nappy change or when your baby first wakes up from a nap are usually great times. If your little one is tired, hungry, or fussy, don’t pressure them to tummy time. Let them have a nap, feed if hungry, or sing them a song while holding them, then try again later. Make time every day for tummy time.
- Prepare for action
It may be hard to imagine with your tiny baby, but they will eventually learn to roll over, crawl, and sit up by themselves. Spending time on their stomachs will help them gain strength to later roll over, crawl, and sit up.
- Reduce head pressure
Tummy time plays an important role in the shape of your baby’s head. Spending too long on their back can cause the back of your baby’s head to flatten. Spending longer periods of time each day on their tummy will help lessen the pressure on the back of your little one’s soft skull.
- Stay close
Never leave your baby alone while they are on their tummy. Your baby’s mouth or nose could be covered accidentally, which may put them at risk of suffocating.
When your baby is a newborn and has very little head control, they may need a little help to learn this skill. Place a rolled-up blanket or other support underneath their chest and armpits to give them a helping lift. Once your baby is older and stronger, and is more comfortable with tummy time, lay a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their stomach with their arms out in front of them. Alternatively, you could hold your baby on your chest as you recline on a couch or pillows for some great bonding and tummy time in one!