Tummy time is essential for your baby’s growth. But tummy time isn’t as easy as putting your baby down on a blanket for a few minutes a day. What if your baby screams every time? At what age is the right time to start? How do you stimulate your baby during this time, so they aren’t just lying on the cold floor?
To answer your questions we’ve compiled a list of milestones, tips, and tricks from other moms to help get you started with tummy time.
What Is Tummy Time?
Let’s start easy. Tummy time is when babies spend time laying on their stomachs as opposed to sitting up or on their backs. This is a time when your baby should be awake and supervised because they will get the most out of tummy time by squirming, wiggling, and using those neck muscles.
Why Does Your Baby Need It?
There are several benefits to dedicated tummy time. The top among them is how much growth and development your baby does when on their stomach. Plus, it gives you a great bonding opportunity. So, when your baby is fed up and you’re wondering why you’re doing this at all, just remember that your little one is reaping these benefits:
- Engaging muscles that aren’t often used
- Boosting gross motor skills
- Mastering head control
- Alleviating gas pain
- Preventing flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly)
- Practicing for rolling over, sitting up, and crawling
When Should You Start?
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting tummy time as soon as possible. Yes, you can even start it safely on Day 1 at home from the hospital if you have a healthy, full-term baby. Remember that your baby must be awake and supervised during tummy time. So, if you’ve just fed or your baby seems tired, save it for later.
How Long Should Your Baby Stay On Their Tummy?
At first, you will want to only do a few minutes, two or three times a day. In the first month, aim for 10 total minutes a day, and add 10 minutes each month until your baby can roll over—usually around six months old.
In the first few days of tummy time, you may only put your newborn on his or her stomach for one or two minutes at a time. Be prepared for your baby to cry. Your instinct will be to stop it or not do it at all because you don’t want them to suffer. But, these few minutes are essential.
What Should You Do If Your Baby Hates It?
If you want to help your baby through tummy time until they start to love it, try a few of these tricks:
- Lay in front of your baby, or invite an older sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent to lay there, and talk, coo, or sing.
- Place an unbreakable mirror in front of your baby.
- Put one or two age-appropriate toys near them to grab.
- Shorten tummy time but add more instances of it throughout the day. Instead of five minutes at a time four times a day, do 2 ½ minutes eight times a day.
- Give your baby a massage. Massaging the feet, legs, or back during tummy time can make it more enjoyable and help them adjust.
- Go tummy to tummy. This is a baby favorite! Lay on your back and put your baby on your stomach. Then talk or sing while you both enjoy looking at each other.
Tummy Time Milestones, Safety Tips, and Tricks That Boost Bonding and Growth.
- By about a month, baby will be able to lift their head to look around for short moments.
- Around four months, baby should be able to prop themselves up on their elbows while lifting the head up.
- By five months, baby should begin to kick themselves over as if trying to roll to the back.
- Around six months, baby should begin rolling over.
- Always supervise tummy time.
- Never put your baby on their tummy to sleep, and if they fall asleep during tummy time, move them to their back right away.
- Tummy time should take place on the floor or on your stomach, not on the couch or an elevated surface. You never know when your baby will start to roll!
- Put pets away so they do not walk on your baby or get in their face.
- Watch other children in the household to make sure they either engage appropriately during tummy time or stay away.
- Put a blanket down on a clean floor, so your baby doesn’t become a dust bunny.
Tricks that Boost Bonding and Growth:
- Sit on the ground with baby and prop them up on your legs.
- Make a baby airplane by lying on your back with your knees to your chest. Lay your baby on your shins and rock them back and forth.
- Cradle baby in your arms on the belly and walk around the house or yard.
- Use tummy time to read books to your baby.
Tummy time is a big deal for your little one. Make it fun, for both of you, and you’ll get to bond while helping them develop essential muscles and motor skills that will be used for life.