As a new parent, it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the developmental milestones your baby needs to hit. Tummy time is an essential activity that promotes healthy neck muscles, but it’s not always clear when and how to start. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate tummy time guide to help you and your little one thrive.
Why Tummy Time
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started recommending that babies be placed “back to sleep” more than ten years ago, the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome has significantly decreased. On the other hand, babies who sleep on their backs are more likely to develop positional plagiocephaly, which is characterized by the development of flat patches on the back of the skull.
In addition, when a baby is usually lying on their stomach, their motor development may be slowed since they have fewer opportunities to use the muscles in their upper body. Lack of stomach time can affect how quickly your child learns basic abilities like lifting their head and flipping over, which can also affect how quickly they master other physical milestones like sitting, crawling and walking.
When Should We Begin the Tummy Time Routine?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tummy time should begin when your baby is still a newborn. But how can you help your youngster adjust to this weird and unfamiliar position in the best way possible?
To begin, position your infant to face you on your chest or across your lap. They will become more acclimated to the situation as a result of this. You could also speak to them quietly and encourage them to raise their head by doing so. If they look comfortable being belly-down, you can move your baby to a tummy time mat or blanket on the floor. This will allow them to continue practicing being belly-down.
One thing to keep in mind, though: you need to be watchful about the timing of your tummy time. If you lay your infant down on their stomach immediately following a meal, for instance, this can exert pressure on the abdomen, which can cause your child to throw up. Because of this, you should try to engage them in tummy-time activities when they are the most awake and aware, such as right after their diaper change or after a nap.
How Much Tummy Time?
Two or three periods of three minutes each should make up a newborn’s daily allotment of tummy time in the beginning. As your child becomes bigger and stronger, you should progressively extend the amount of time you read to him or her until you reach a total of twenty minutes every day.
Your infant should be able to lift their chest off the ground and lean on their elbows with their head held up by the time they are approximately four months old. It’s possible that they can even lift their arms off the ground, arch their back, and kick their feet. As your infant moves around on the ground, stretching and pushing, they may unintentionally tilt to one side, topple over, and roll over from being on their stomach onto their back. Don’t worry about that; that’s quite normal. Between the ages of 5 and 6 months, your child will start rolling over onto their stomach and using their arms to grasp in front of them or to the sides of them.
Your infant will feel a sense of accomplishment as they learn to make their body do new things once you teach them how to do so. This instills the confidence in them that is necessary for attempting new abilities.
What Can I Do If My Child Refuses to Do Tummy Time?
Some infants strongly object to being turned over and will cry out in protest if they are positioned in this position. When a baby is on their stomach, they must work extra hard against gravity to keep their head up—strenuous. Shapiro is the medical director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at All Children’s Hospital.
If they resist, you should only keep them on the floor for one or two minutes, but you should try to keep them there for three minutes. Maintain a gradual increase in tummy time and keep encouraging him to use it. Your child will eventually become accustomed to sleeping on his tummy and will begin to look forward to participating in this daily ritual. Dr. Shapiro recommends that “tummy time” not be treated as a chore but rather as an enjoyable component of daily activity.
What Kinds of Activities Can I Participate in with the Baby?
Your baby will fight to be on their stomach less if you make the experience more enjoyable by providing them with plenty of opportunities for face-to-face eye contact and tummy-time toys. Experiment with the following:
- Talk to your child when positioned on your stomach with their head towards you while you are reclining on your back. They will make an effort to raise their head to look at your face.
- Place your infant or young child on a spotless, level surface, such as a playmat or a blanket spread out on the floor. Extra cushioning can be provided by rolling up a tiny receiving blanket and tucking it under the baby’s chest if they are fussy or crying. If your baby is wriggling or crying, do this.
- Laugh it up, make silly faces and noises, and sing silly songs when you’re down on the ground with your infant. You could feel foolish, but your actions will divert your little love bug’s attention away from the strenuous workout they are doing.
- While your infant is playing on the floor, surround them with cuddly animals in vivid colors. Your infant or toddler may try to get their hands on them. You can also grab your baby’s attention by holding a mirror in front of them.
Tummy Time Safety
When you play with your child in this position, you should make sure that they are on a low and stable surface. This will prevent them from falling off a chair or a bed while you are having fun with them. The safest position for your child is on the floor, on top of a blanket, which you should use when caring for a baby. Additionally, if you have older kids or dogs, you should keep them away from your youngest child to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.
Never, ever leave an infant on their stomach unattended, since they can easily slip into a posture that is harmful to them or and cause them to suffocate. If you see that your infant is becoming sleepy or has fallen asleep while on their stomach, you should turn them or over onto their back to sleep. You must never permit children to sleep on their stomachs because doing so puts them in an increased danger of passing away from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
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