Infants have a variety of reactions to being placed face-down on the floor. Until they develop the muscles necessary to lift their heads from an awkward face-plant position, many babies hate tummy time (and squall indignantly to let you know it!). Others seem to love the view. And still others are indifferent, cooing happily no matter which end is up.

Whatever your baby’s reaction, tummy time helps your baby develop motor skills that eventually lead to crawling. Here’s what tummy time is, how to do it and tips to encourage it if your little one prefers to remain belly-up.

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy Time is one of baby’s first exercises – and the most important! Tummy Time is the period during the day your baby spends awake and on their stomach. It is a crucial exercise for baby’s visual, motor, and sensory development. Baby can begin Tummy Time as a newborn, and continue throughout baby’s first year.

When should Tummy Time start?

Tummy time should start when your baby is a newborn, according to the AAP. Start by placing her belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes at a time so she gets accustomed to the position. Just don’t do it right after a feeding—pressure on her full abdomen may cause her to spit up. Ideally, you want to do tummy-time activities when she’s most awake and alert, such as after a diaper change or nap.

Infants have a variety of reactions to being placed face-down on the floor. Until they develop the muscles necessary to lift their heads from an awkward face-plant position, many babies hate tummy time (and squall indignantly to let you know it!).

How long should you do Tummy Time?

Aim to achieve at least an hour of Tummy Time total per day by 3 months of age. This hour of Tummy Time can be broken up into smaller parts. From newborn age, start with a few minutes at a time and build up to longer sessions.

How often should you do Tummy Time?

Start with small increments of a few minutes at a time, several times a day. Eventually, try to do longer Tummy Time sessions, eventually building up to a full hour.

At what age should baby stop Tummy Time?

Once baby begins crawling, around 7-9 months, they will be getting the developmental benefits of Tummy Time while moving, and it is not as essential to have them do Tummy Time. However, it still beneficial to have baby spend some time in the Tummy Time position (also known as prone position) during play.

What conditions can Tummy Time help prevent?

In addition to having proven developmental benefits, Tummy Time can help prevent two conditions: positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis.

Positional plagiocephaly is the development of flat spots on the back and side of the head, which can lead to asymmetries of the head and face. Positional torticollis is the stiffening of neck muscles, causing baby’s head to tilt to one side.

Take a look at our new selection of baby playmats that you can use to help your baby during the tummy time.

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