So you’ve had a new baby and you’ve been thrown into a world of firsts. Feedings, new sleep schedules, many doctor’s appointments–and so, so much more that you might not recall right now. It can be a big but wonderful adjustment after you have a new baby. You’ve probably done a bunch of research and read parenting books, but sometimes the application of concepts can be vastly different than how the books or articles have outlined it all.
One thing that you probably have questions about is tummy time. What is it? Why do we do it? and how much tummy time does my baby really need? are all great questions that we’ve all asked as new parents. So, we’ve rounded up all of the most frequently asked questions about tummy time and we’ll go through them to help.
What is tummy time?
If you’re a new parent, you may have heard people mentioning tummy time, but you may not know what it actually means. Tummy time is when you take your little baby and place them on a blanket. Then you turn them over so they are lying on their stomach. This might look uncomfortable, and your baby might really hate it at first. However, it is essential for your baby’s development. As a side note, you should always monitor them during tummy time since your baby will potentially be face down on a blanket.
Why is tummy time important?
So, you might be wondering why you need to do this for your baby. They might really dislike it, and that can be hard to watch as a parent. However, tummy time is very important to your baby’s development. Many years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that babies sleep on their backs. So, “back is best” when the baby is sleeping. This helped decrease deaths from SIDS. However, it also means that babies have spent more time on their backs. Because of this, many babies were developing flat spots on the backs of their heads called positional plagiocephaly, which isn’t good for your baby’s skull.
The other thing that happens if your baby is always on their back is they might not be able to develop some of the necessary physical milestones on time. They need practice learning how to roll over and hold up their head to hit developmental milestones. This can in turn determine how quickly they do things like walking and crawling. So, getting comfortable on their tummies is actually essential for your baby’s health and development.
When can you start doing tummy time?
The AAP recommends that your baby start tummy time as a newborn. You’ll want to wait until the umbilical stump falls off their stomach, though.
How long should tummy time last
As far as how long a baby should do tummy time, there are some differing ideas on the matter. However, most experts seem to say that you need to start the baby out slowly. So start with two, 2-3 minute sessions as they are getting used to it. Slowly work them up to doing 15 minutes, and then as they hit about 3 months old, many experts say to work up to an hour per day of tummy time. You’ll want to split this up into different sessions so the baby doesn’t get too cranky. Of course, these are all rules of thumb, and you should consult your pediatrician so you can address your baby’s unique needs. One size often doesn’t fit all when it comes to parenting, and if your baby needs a different routine, your pediatrician should be able to help you better accommodate that.
How to keep tummy time safe
Since babies are so tiny and new to this world, they don’t understand much. This includes sitting on their tummies for long periods of time. There probably will be times when your baby is unhappy to be doing tummy time. So, some crying, grunting or frustration is normal. However, it’s important for you to stay close by when the baby is in a tummy time position. This is for their safety as many babies can’t lift up their heads yet, and you need to make sure they’re getting enough air. Also, if they get too upset, you might need to take a break and try later.
As your baby becomes more mobile, you’ll want to pay extra attention to what they’re doing. They could roll into trouble or crawl away. So, just keep this in mind as the baby learns and grows. It’s not super safe to leave them there sitting alone, even if you think they aren’t mobile.
Things that can make tummy time more pleasant
There are some things you can do to make tummy time a little more comfortable and fun for your baby. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
- Baby Play Mat – Place one of these soft and beautiful baby play mats on the floor for the baby to enjoy. It’ll keep your baby from being on a dirty floor, and it’s much softer. The play mats are also washable. So, you can wash them if the baby accidentally spits up.
- Baby Burp Cloth – Speaking of spitting up, babies do it a lot. Baby tummy time can be a prevalent time for this, too. If they’ve eaten recently, it’s better to keep your baby off their full tummy until they’ve had time to digest. However, if your baby still spits up a little, it’s nice to have a burp cloth close by to mop up the mess. Just make sure you keep the burp rag out of arm’s reach to keep the baby safe.
- Tummy Time Books and Packs – Did you know there are special tummy time books that stand up and let your baby look at cute pictures while they’re on their tummies? There are! While these books aren’t necessary, and your baby might not pay as much attention to them at first, they might really enjoy looking at pictures as they progress.
- Toy for Encouragement – Having a stuffed toy, rattle, book or something to pique your baby’s interest might be helpful. As your baby progresses and can lift their head, you’ll want to encourage crawling. When that happens, having an item just a little out of their reach can help encourage this big milestone! Again, make sure you are keeping a close eye on your baby so they are safe while trying to get the toy.
No matter what you choose to do when it comes to tummy time for infants, just make sure you are consulting your pediatrician and doing what’s best for your new addition!