Tummy time is crucial for your baby’s growth and development. Here’s essential tummy time advice, plus how to make sure you baby gets enough.
Why tummy time is important
What’s the big deal about tummy time, anyway? Since the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that babies be placed to sleep on their backs, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has decreased by almost 50 percent. That’s why tummy time is important: “We encourage supervised tummy time so that babies’ neck muscles can be strengthened, which helps babies meet gross motor milestones like rolling over and sitting up,” says Jean Moorjani, M.D., of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Tummy time also helps prevent flat head syndrome.
Tummy time advice
Problem is, some babies aren’t too thrilled about spending time on their stomachs. Besides being a new sensation, tummy time could be difficult for your baby’s still-weak muscles (getting face-planted on the carpet is definitely no fun!). That means your little one will need you to help him ease into the activity. Here’s tummy time advice for new moms:
Try tummy time intervals
The most important piece of tummy time advice? Start as soon as you get home from the hospital. Place your baby on his tummy on a flat, blanket-covered surface two or three times a day for about five minutes at a time. This will get him used to the feeling of tummy time and won’t tire him out too much. If five minutes seems to long, try starting at just 30 seconds or a minute a few times a day, and gradually tack on a minute or two as he becomes stronger.
Lie down on your belly next to your baby and make silly noises to distract him. If he’s not a fan of being placed on the floor for tummy time, you can lie down on your back and put him on your chest. He’ll still be working those muscles by trying to lift his head and see your face.
Grab his attention
Make it fun by placing colorful toys just out of your baby’s reach. His grasping, sliding, and scooting to grab them will help strengthen his muscles and eventually lead to him roll over for the first time. If you have an older child, have her get on the floor and help—babies love other kids, and it’ll be fun for yours to try tummy time play with a new face.
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