how to do tummy time
More and more pediatricians now recommend babies sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS. While this practice is suggested for safety and health, many babies are also missing out on crucial awake hours of tummy time due to the habit of placing babies on their backs. Babies are already on their backs in strollers, car seats, bouncy seats and in many cases, play gyms. There are so many important reasons to give your baby more tummy time — or time spent lying on her stomach. Whether you place baby’s tummy on a flat surface, in a good baby carrier facing inwards, or even belly-down in a loved one’s arms, here are a few reasons you might want to incorporate tummy time into your newborn’s daily routine.
Why is tummy time important?
First, tummy time prevents the flattening of the head that can occur when a baby spends too much time lying on her back. But it also gives the baby opportunities to progress in the natural blueprint of movement sequences that enable her to sit up and later stand in the vertical position. Tummy time helps develop the spinal curves and muscle strength needed to move onto all fours and begin balancing. This leads to Developmental Movement Patterns — creeping, crawling, sitting, scooting, standing and walking upright. Without these movements, the brain does not achieve its full opportunity to develop the corpus colosum, which enables the right and left hemispheres to transmit information between one another. The Developmental Movement Patterns are like a big puzzle. Babies find varying ways to put them together as they move to standing vertically. Genetics, environment and opportunities for activity also play a role in how quickly a baby will move through these patterns.
How soon can a new parent begin tummy time with their newborn?
You can begin placing your baby on her belly on a flat surface as soon as the umbilical cord has fallen off. Newborns will begin by rooting around with their heads and work towards lifting their heads. Tummy time actually begins the moment you hold your baby in your arms, and by using a good baby carrier to wear your baby.
How long should tummy time last?
Try to work up to about 30-40 minutes a day, which can be spread throughout her waking hours.
What are some Tummy Time tips?
Try different surfaces to see which one your baby is most comfortable on. The bed, floor, a soft sheepskin mat, the changing table and even your chest and belly are all different kinds of surfaces to explore. Diaper changing time is a great opportunity to add in some tummy time and play. This happens multiple times in a day so it could become a routine part of diapering. Expect it to be a struggle at first. In fact, the best way to help your newborn with tummy time is to wear her in a good front carrier or baby wrap. And of course, carrying your baby in your arms is a wonderful way for her to feel your heart next to hers while she tries to push her belly into you to lift her head. Do not expect a newborn to do this much. It’s a process of building! During tummy time talk, sing and play with your baby. Use toys, scarves and instruments to keep baby engaged. This is a great bonding time for baby and caregivers! Do it a little at a time and keep building it up over time.