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What Age Should Babies Start Tummy Time?

19 March 2023

Babies are individuals with their own needs and abilities, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when they should start doing tummy time. Some babies are ready as early as a few days old, while others may not be ready until they are several months old. It’s important to try to integrate tummy time into your baby’s routine, even if it’s only for short sessions.

What is tummy time, and why is it important?

Tummy time is when an infant is placed on their stomach while awake. Though it may seem small, providing your infant with regular time on their front can make a big difference in their development. It is important because it helps infants learn to control their heads and develop the strength to sit up and crawl. When babies spend all their time on their backs, they can miss out on vital opportunities to develop these important skills. There is also a risk of infants developing brachycephaly - flat spots on their head - if they spend too much time on their backs. 

What age should babies start tummy time?

So when is the best time to start incorporating time on their front into your baby’s routine? Some experts recommend that infants start tummy time when just a few weeks old. Some babies may be able to handle tummy time earlier than this, while others may not be ready until they are a bit older. There is no wrong answer - it all depends on your child. However, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time. If they seem uncomfortable or upset, take a break and try again later.

How can you tell if your baby is ready for tummy time?

Tummy time is an important part of your baby's development, but it can be tough to know when they're ready for it. A good way to tell is by monitoring their head control - once they can hold their head up steadily for several seconds at a time, they're likely ready. Another sign that your little one is ready for tummy time is if they start showing an interest in moving around. If they start reaching for toys or trying to roll over, it's a good indication that they're ready to start exploring the world beyond your arms.

How do you start integrating tummy time?

The best way is to introduce it gradually. Start by placing your baby on their tummy for a few minutes, and then try to increase the time as they get stronger. You can also try putting them on your chest or in a seated position, so they can get used to being upright. Remember to stay close by and offer plenty of encouragement to keep them smiling. Tummy time will become a valuable part of your baby's routine with a little patience and practice.

What are the benefits of tummy time for babies?

Tummy time helps to strengthen the muscles in the neck and back and can also help to prevent flat spots from developing on the head. Being in this position allows babies to practise their visual tracking skills and develop fine motor skills. Aside from the physical benefits, it can help to stimulate your baby's mind and promote brain development. Infants who spend time on their tummies are likely to learn to roll over, sit up, and crawl sooner than those who do not have regular tummy time.

Tummy time is an important part of your baby's development, but there is no universal answer to when they should start doing it. Some babies are ready for tummy time as early as a few days old, while others may not be ready until several months old. If you have any questions, get in touch with your health visitor, GP or paediatrician. 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

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