Tummy time is one of the most important and beneficial things you can do with your baby to help them meet developmental milestones.
Studies by the World Health Organization and National Institute of Child Health & Human Services, among others, continue to show the strong importance of tummy time for a baby's growth, development and health. The muscle and strength developed, and skills learned while on the tummy are essential for later development into crawling and walking.
Experts agree that stimulation during Tummy Time is good for babies, but what you think is good for baby - flashing lights and music – might not be needed. Instead, allow babies to take in the environment around them and engage less aggressive forms of sensory stimulation.
Here are the Top Tummy Time Tips for Parents:
Most people believe that tummy time activities to promote crawling should start around four months old, but experts now say that tummy time should actually begin as a newborn baby, as soon as they come home from the hospital.
It’s important to put your baby on a solid flat surface for tummy time. Floor is better than the bed.
Create a special area specifically for your tummy time floor sessions, but “change the scenery” every week or so just slightly. Your baby is not just learning to hold their head up, they are also taking in everything around them as they increase sensory development.
Getting started slowly. Parents should ease their baby into tummy time. After all, everything around them is new and they are learning so much every moment they’re awake. Start with short periods of tummy time and slowly work your baby to more and more time on the floor. For instance, newborns can start with just a few minutes of time to get used to the sensation of tummy time.
Tummy time is a commitment and should be part of the daily routine. Parents should aim to achieve at least an hour of tummy time daily by three 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.
Stop when your baby becomes upset. It just means they’ve had enough at that time. Instead, give some time on your chest and slowly work them into more floor time. It’s important to note that tummy time may feel uncomfortable to your baby and will simply take them more time to get used to it.
Keep a few toys nearby to encourage your baby to reach for and learn to grab for them.
Pay attention to signs your baby is getting tired or over stimulated – rubbing eye or crying. It’s important to understand your baby’s limits. This reaction will be different from the simple adjustment to time spent on the tummy.
Never leave your baby unattended or alone during tummy time. Babies that sleep on their stomachs are at greater risk of SIDS or suffocating. Just another reason for you to enjoy tummy time together.
Which leads to our last tip: Join your baby. Tummy time can be a special part of the day set aside for you and your baby to bond in a different way. Plus, you can catch some very valuable firsts!