The Importance of “Tummy Time”

Is “Tummy Time” important?

the importance of "Tummy Time"photo by Lydia of GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography

I’m sure that every new mom is told that she must make sure to do “Tummy Time” with her little baby! What is not said out loud is that it is not always easy to get a little one to do something which they are less than happy to do!! The truth of the matter is that “Tummy Time” (where you place your baby on its stomach on a rug, blanket or some other cozy item on the floor) does have enormous benefits and listed below are just 5 of them to encourage you to play “Tummy Time” with your baby!

5 Benefits of “Tummy Time”

1: “Tummy Time” is good for muscle development and boosts gross motor skills, which means it is good practice for when your baby is ready to start rolling over or sit upright and also for when your little one eventually wants to crawl.

2: As the norm nowadays is to put your baby down to sleep on his back, “Tummy Time” also helps to stop your baby from getting “flat head syndrome” which can occur if a baby is left lying on their back for too long a period of time.

3: “Tummy Time” helps to develop head, neck and shoulders muscles as it is natural for the baby to want to lift his/her head when placed on their stomach.

4: Your baby also gains a different perspective on the world by looking at items around the room from a different angle.

5: “Tummy Time” gives you a few precious moments to bond with your baby, too, especially if you lay your baby on your tummy!

bonding and "Tummy Time"

So it seems that the benefits gained from “tummy time” are well worth the effort of persisting, even when baby is not too keen!!!

When to start

when to start "Tummy Time"

Ok, so now that you know that there are a few good reasons for getting baby to tolerate “Tummy Time”, the next question is when should you start? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that if a baby is born full term with no health issues then parents can start “Tummy Time” from their first day home from the hospital. It is important, though, that both you and your baby are awake and alert and that either you or the other parent is there to supervise – you can’t afford to fall asleep on this job!!! Usually the lower belly and pelvis of newborns does not touch the surface beneath them so you don’t have to worry about the umbilical stump unless your doctor has advised you not to do “Tummy Time”. So check with your doctor/paediatrician if you are uncertain.

unhappy at "Tummy Time"

It is very likely that at first your baby might not like being on his/her tummy. Some do and some don’t. If you have the latter type of baby you might have to start with very short sessions and work your way up as your baby becomes used to the position. One should aim for 2 to 3 sessions/day for 3 to 5 minutes at a time for a newborn. The ideal time is when baby awakes from one of his/her naps or after a nappy change. If your baby is one of those who gets upset at being on his/her stomach on a blanket, you could lay your newborn facedown on YOUR stomach or chest whilst you are lying down (great for bonding) and you can sing or talk or recite nursery rhymes as you lie there! Even placing your baby tummy down across your lap is considered as “tummy time”. By the time your baby is 3-4 months old  and, hopefully, has begun to enjoy this activity you should be able to have short sessions for a total of 20 -30 minutes per day of tummy time. Once your baby can roll over on his/her own your training will pay off as he/she will be doing tummy time under their own steam!

A word of caution about “ Tummy Time” – it is very important that baby is awake for his/her “Tummy Time” session and not left to fall asleep on his/her tummy as the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is thought to be increased if a baby is left to sleep on their tummy.

If you would like to know  what “milestones” are achieved through Tummy Time as the months go on, I will delve into that in next weeks’ blog!

Yours in newborn photography

Lydia

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