6 Ways to do Tummy Time

Tummy time is an important strength building activity for babies.  Placing your baby on her stomach several times a day will help build neck, shoulder, back and core muscles that are vital to your baby’s physicality.  Babies that get plenty of time on their tummies daily tend to roll over and crawl earlier.  As a newborn, tummy time can be done briefly a few times a day.  By three months, tummy time should be done at least four or five times daily for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.

Tummy time also helps prevent babies from having flat heads, or positional plagiocephaly.  Experts urge parents to put babies to sleep on their backs because it reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  However, too much time lying on the back in the same position can misshape the head, making tummy time even more valuable to your baby’s development.

tummy time__1457980829_162.206.228.38Tummy time should always be supervised.  Many babies get fussy during tummy time so be present and encouraging in order to engage your baby during this experience.  You can use toys to distract your baby and entice her to turn or lift her head.

Doing tummy time in different positions will further strengthen your baby’s muscles and provide a change of scenery for you and your baby.  To keep things fresh and interesting for everyone, try these 6 ways to do tummy time:

On a Blanket:  The traditional way to do tummy time is on the floor with your baby on a blanket.  If you have hard floors, put a soft mat underneath the blanket to ensure your baby doesn’t hit her head too hard on the ground.  Your baby should be positioned on her belly with hands to the side and slightly forward.  Legs can be stretched long or curled under your baby.  Get on the floor with your baby – she loves to see your face and hear your voice.  It can be your first of many times you’ll cheer on your child from the sidelines.

On a Table:  Getting on the floor for tummy time may be hard for some adults.  You can set your baby on a table, even her changing table, for tummy time.  This allows you to stand or sit next to her, which may be more comfortable.  Again, make sure the surface is not too hard underneath and always keep one hand on your baby to ensure she doesn’t fall off.

In a Crib:  Your baby’s crib is a terrific place to do tummy time.  While she’s sleeping she will always be placed on her back, but for supervised tummy time she can be on her stomach.  Add a few toys for her to look at during tummy time, but be sure to remove them before she sleeps as nothing should be in the crib with your infant while she is sleeping.

On a Boppy or Pillow:  Using a boppy or other type of firm pillow, lay your baby horizontally with her chest against the surface and her legs on the floor.  This positions your baby differently and therefore helps work her muscles differently too.  You may notice that she uses her feet to push herself up, almost as if she’s climbing stairs.  This is great for the legs.  Many infants prefer tummy time on a pillow, especially in the early months.

On your Chest:  Before or after breastfeeding is a wonderful time for tummy time.  You’re already holding your baby so place her on your chest on her tummy and let her use your body as a surface.  She will probably want to move her head to look at you.  This skin-to-skin contact has many other developmental advantages as well, and the warmth of your body will be comforting to your baby, even if she isn’t a fan of tummy time.

On your Lap:  Lap tummy time is excellent for newborns who need extra support, but can also be done easily any time you or someone else is holding your baby.  Simply lay your baby across your lap with her arms to the side.  She may like this form of tummy time best since she still gets human contact during the experience.

Make tummy time a priority for your baby.  It’s hard work for both of you, but like any other exercise, “no pain, no gain.”