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What is Tummy Time?

16 March 2023

You may have heard of tummy time, but you may not know why it’s so important for your baby. Spending time lying on their stomachs helps infants develop strong and healthy muscles, including in their neck and shoulders. It helps them learn how to move their arms and legs, plus it helps stimulate their brains. Read on to find out more.

What is tummy time, and why is it important?

For infants, tummy time is when they are placed on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. Having this time where they’re not lying on their backs helps babies develop their neck, shoulders, and back muscles and prevents flat spots (plagiocephaly) from forming on their heads. It also gives them a chance to practise using their arms and legs, which helps them learn how to crawl and walk later. Although it can be difficult for some babies to get used to being on their tummies, it's important to start them off early and make it a part of their daily routine. With a little patience and perseverance, your baby will soon enjoy all the benefits that tummy time offers.

How to do it correctly

It's important to do tummy time correctly to avoid unnecessary strain on your baby's developing spine. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with short sessions. 15-20 minutes is plenty to start with. You can gradually increase the length of tummy time as your little one gets stronger.
  • Make sure your baby's head is in alignment with their body - this means that they shouldn’t be tucking their chin into their chest. Instead, they should be able to look up and around.
  • Support their head and neck. Use one hand to support their head while they do tummy time lightly. This will help to avoid strain on their neck.

When to start

You can begin incorporating tummy time into your baby’s routine as early as a few days after birth, but it should be gradual at first. Start with just a few minutes at a time several times a day, and gradually increase the duration as they get stronger. It’s up to you where you do tummy time - you can do it on the floor, on a mat or even on your chest. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your little one and provide plenty of support. With a little practice, your baby will be a tummy time pro.

How often to do tummy time

Try to do tummy time several times a day, even if it's just for a few minutes. At first, it may only last for a minute or two, but you can gradually increase the amount of time as your baby gets stronger. Remember to always supervise your baby during tummy time and stop if they get upset. As they get older, you can incorporate tummy time into other activities, such as during nappy changes or while your little one is playing on their back.

Benefits of tummy time for babies

Tummy time is an important activity for babies. It helps to develop their muscles and coordination, and it can also prevent plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome). Use it as an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your child. It’s an important part of your baby's development, so include it in their daily routine. You can do it several times a day, even if it's just for a few minutes. It's important to do tummy time correctly and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets stronger.

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

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