Almost all parents know that tummy time with baby is an important activity in their development, but many do not know the reasons why. Because the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that it is safest for babies to sleep on their backs, our little ones need enough supervised tummy time during waking hours in order to strengthen head, neck, and upper body muscles. Tummy time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing. Here are some additional tummy time benefits for babies:
Plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, occurs for a number of reasons. The most common way this happens is from staying in one position for an extended period of time. Because young babies spend most of the day asleep on their backs, tummy time is instrumental in preventing flat areas on their heads.
Because tummy time should be closely supervised, it can serve as a great bonding time with baby! Laying down next to your little one, engaging and playing with them, can strengthen your early bond. Also, you can lay down on your back and place baby on your chest for face-to-face tummy time.
Torticollis is a condition that is characterized by a stiffness of the neck that causes the head to tilt to one side, making it difficult for a baby to turn their head from side to side. It has a wide variety of causes, but one of the primary forms of both prevention and treatment is tummy time! The simple act of placing your baby on their tummy forces them to strengthen the muscles in their neck.
Even the small range of motion of turning the head from side to side to look around can help loosen up some of the tightness and stiffness in an infant’s neck. When your baby is on their tummy, they are able to get a different perspective of their environment. This encourages them to rotate their head to look around at different toys or sounds around the room, and eventually rotate their body in different positions to access toys and items that peak their curiosity.
Gross Motor Development
From the time your baby is born (especially between 0 and 3 months of age), their gross motor skills begin to rapidly develop. As your baby’s nervous system and muscle control start to work together, their movements become more and more advanced. One of the very best ways to stimulate their gross motor development is through tummy time!
Allowing your little one to play and explore can do wonders for their little minds, social skills, and gross motor development. But there are increased benefits for their gross motor development when you play and interact with your baby during tummy time. Simply the sound of your voice and the physical interaction between you and your little one can be extremely beneficial.
As they begin to move their little bodies more and more during tummy time, your baby’s posture improves. Arm and leg muscles strengthen, and they learn to roll and push up with their body weight. Tummy time also helps with eye development, focus, and spatial awareness as baby practices near and far vision focusing.
Bowl Movement Stimulation
Tummy time is also a great way to stimulate babies bowel movement! As your baby stretches and engages their abdominal muscles during tummy time, they’re also massaging their abdominal organs—helping them to pass gas and stimulate proper bowel movement. Incorporating tummy time in your baby’s daily routine will ensure your baby has a happy and healthy tummy and digestive system!
Tummy time is an activity that stimulates multiple senses. Being on their tummy allows them to focus on their surroundings more effectively, helping them practice vision and focus. While exploring through touch, babies become more aware of textures and surfaces.
During this activity, they are also able to turn their heads towards sounds, allowing them to make connections between items and people they see and the sounds they make. Incorporating colorful toys and high-contrast books into tummy time fun and also encourages your little one to engage in sensory development.
Helps Hand-eye Coordination and Visual Development
Tummy time exposes your baby to a new environment, as they’re usually laid on their back looking at the world upside-down. By being on their tummy, they can learn how to focus their eyes on nearby toys, and it even starts to encourage them to reach out and try to grab objects.
When introducing sensory play during tummy time, an engaging activity mat or toy can help keep babies interested. Start slow, build your way up, and your baby will start benefiting from tummy time before you know it!