Tummy Time for Your Newborn
What and why?As your baby moves and turns their neck, talk to them, sing to them, and give them praise. The goal is to keep your baby engaged and help them enjoy this time together with you. Your baby will attempt to lift their head which is exactly what we want, but be aware that babies are top heavy. This means your baby may roll to one side or the other and the weight of their head causes them to tumble over. This movement of your baby learning to hold and control their head movement prepares your baby for future milestones like rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. Making sure they have strong core and trunk muscles will help support their future physical advancements like walking and running.
When children do not get enough tummy time, we can sometimes see issues with their gait or when they run due to lack of muscle tone or having never engaged those specific muscles before. We also see things like flathead as a result of spending too much time laying in their backs. If your child has flat head, begun to have them spend time in their tummies as well as consider seeing a pediatric chiropractor.
You can do tummy time and skin-to-skin at the same time by removing your shirt and your child's clothes (leave baby in a diaper) and laying baby, belly button down, on your chest. This can be done in the couch or the floor. Do not no it at a time that you are very tired and risk falling asleep with your baby on your chest.
Tummy time also helps your child master head control and encourages them to reach for toys that are in front of them (around 6 months old). For some babies, tummy time can be great relief for gas. Eventually, around 8 months old, you will notice your baby crossing their midline (imagine a line straight down their body, in line with their spine, through their head and out their tailbone) to swat, reach, and grab things! Fun milestones ahead!
When and how much?
The goal is 20 minutes a day, unless your baby has challenges like flat head or muscular issues and in that case, you'd want to increase the amount of tummy time. Keeping in mind your child's emotional intelligence and supporting that, you can break up the 20 minutes throughout the day. This is one really big positive to starting at 14 days old. While your baby is that young, they are usually very easy going and presents the perfect time to introduce things.
You can incorporate tummy time into so many parts of your day. You want to make sure your child is not hungry because they will be easily agitated, but you also don't want to feed them within 45 minutes prior to doing tummy time to prevent regurgitation or spit up. Also, choose a time that your child is alert so you can spend the time bonding and making eye contact with your baby. Remember, begins don't have great eyesight so beside you're getting within 6-12 inches from your baby's face. They, of course, will know it's you by other things like your voice and your smell.
Safety concerns:Just as we don't want your child to associate tummy time with coziness and lounging, we don't want babies to fall asleep while doing tummy time. Again, this is a time to associate pairs working on muscles and physical development. Choose a time that your child is alert and content to do tummy time. We want to experience to be pleasant but also stimulating. Sometimes they will get frustrated and this presents an awesome opportunity to support their emotional development.
The Bottom Line:Tummy time is one of my favorite activities! I hope you can find as much joy in it, as well!
Tummy time is the act of setting your child on their tummy and allowing them to activate muscles that aren't required when lying on your back. Here's how I like to describe it to new parents: remember in high school PE, that wretched 'superman' move, where you had to hover your toes and your fingertips just an inch or two above the ground. If coach was in a really bad mood, she'd throw in a good ole pulse in there. Wretched. Anyway, those 'superman' muscles aren't necessarily needed when your baby is on their back. Since most newborns sons 99% of their time swaddled up and lying in their back, it's important to off set this time with some tummy time activity.
We recommend to our clients to start at day 14. I know what you're thinking, "Are you crazy? 14 days?!", but yes, two weeks old is the perfect age. This gives your child (and your family unit) some time to adjust to this new life style, but not long enough to already have routines in place that you have to undo to fit in tummy time. Also, often times we see new babes mastering skills earlier than average if we support them from immediately following birth.
Since tummy time requires your baby to be on their tummy, you won't be able to control them staying in this position after they begin to have mobility. Tranquility by HeHe recommend continuing tummy time until your child has mastered rolling, sitting up, and crawling. This usually means around 6 ,moths or so. However, it's never a bad idea to set your child on their tummy to begin play. Instead of setting the. Down on their bum or their feet, trying setting them down on their tummy to encourage them to engage those muscles that they may not focus on each day.
Obviously anytime we put infants face down, there's reason to be extra vigilant. You want to make sure tummy time is done if a safe, firm surface-- one that does NOT conform to your child's face. It important to remember that tummy time is a space for your child to work, not a time of luxury and comfort. This dame train of thought will keep your child safe, too.
Tummy time is something that should be started from the very beginning. If tummy time is associated with fun, you can continue this well past 6 months. Tummy time is essential to activating core muscles needed for milestones like sitting up, rolling over, and crawling. All babies should be getting a minimum of 20 minute per day, in one chunk or broken up throughout the day. Make sure your child is placed on a firm, safe surface and is always being supervised closely by a reliable and alert adult.