Before we get into the details of these questions, let’s first redefine tummy time and remember that tummy time will look different as your baby gets older.
What is tummy time
Often when we picture tummy time, we picture a baby alone on the floor. While this a version of tummy time, it is not the only way to participate in tummy time with your baby. Any time that your baby is in a position or activity that keeps them from lying in one position with their head against a flat surface can be considered tummy time. Here are some ideas to help you along:
- Lay on your back with you and your baby tummy to tummy
- Hold your baby over your forearm, belly downward
- Position your baby over your knees, either seated or in a bent knee position on the floor
- Prop your baby up on a wedge or pillow and talk and sing with them
These alternate positions allow for your baby to view you and not get frustrated or scared of being left alone on the floor. This can also be a great time to bond with your baby.
When should tummy time start?
Tummy time can be started the day you take your baby home from the hospital.
- 0-2 months: Your baby will likely be sleeping during tummy time, but may try to lift up their arms and legs.
- 2-3 months: At this age we expect them to be moving their arms and legs as well as beginning to lift their head up and look side to side. They should be participating in tummy time activities for 1-2 hours per day, broken up into 5-15 minute durations
- 4-5 months: We should see them propping themselves upon their arms, raising their arms and legs, and holding their head upright. They should be looking around, reaching for toys, and interacting with you
- 6+ months: Your baby may be pivoting and rolling off their tummy and will often perform tummy time activities throughout their regular play.
Why is tummy time so important?
- Tummy time strengthens the muscles of the neck, back, and legs that are not used as often since the Back to Sleep Campaign in the mid-’90s. (SIDS decreased by nearly 50% since the Back to Sleep Campaign and back sleeping is still the recommended sleep position for babies)
- Allows for time off of the back of the head and prevention flat spots. In today’s culture, babies spend more time in carriers, swings, and bouncers due to the vast amount of products available and the generally busy lifestyle, so anytime out of these containers is beneficial.
- It promotes visual and sensory stimulation
Do’s and Dont’s of Tummy Time:
- Do supervise your baby at all times during tummy time
- Do perform tummy time activities several times throughout the day for short bouts of time (3-5 minutes)
- Do try to create routines, such as a few minutes of tummy time after each diaper change
- Do find creative ways to hold or carry your baby so they can activate their neck and back muscles, such as a football hold or belly-hold
- Do make sure you are
- Do place age-appropriate toys around your baby while in tummy time, making sure they are looking to both their right and left sides.
- Do wear your baby as often as possible, this removes pressure on the back of the head
- Don’t try to practice tummy time right after eating, this can cause your baby to spit up, especially if they have acid reflux, and create a negative association with tummy time
- Don’t force it, remember that tummy time should be a fun activity for you and your baby and there may be times when they are simply not in the mood
- Don’t compare your baby to other babies, the internet, or even siblings.
While some babies will tolerate tummy time very well, some babies will struggle. Keep in mind your baby is getting a workout during tummy time… and all those grunts and groans are proof of that.
If your baby still does no my like tummy time it may be time to talk to your doctor to ensure there is no underlying reason such as acid reflux or a neck tightness or ROM.