Tummy time is an essential activity beginning in the first month of a baby’s life. It is a way to develop strength and coordination and to give your little one a head start in gross motor development.
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and made many parents anxious about placing babies on their tummy at all. The American Academy of Pediatrics then launched the “Back to Sleep-Tummy to Play” campaign, which reminded parents that good gross motor development starts with putting babies on their tummy during supervised play time.
Below are some tips to introduce your infant to tummy time:
• Place the infant on your chest and encourage head lifting by using eye contact and singing to your baby. The higher you sit up, the easier it will be for your baby to push up.
• Get down on the floor yourself with your baby or use a small mirror in front of them to get your baby to interact with the environment at eye level.
• A rolled-up towel placed under the baby’s chest or a boppy pillow can be used to help shift weight from the upper body to encourage head lifting.
• As the baby gets older, playing airplane in different positions, such as over your legs or supporting the baby by holding on to their abdomen and hips, helps to strengthen the back, neck and shoulder muscles.
Tummy time is a very important step during a baby’s first year of life. Although healthy babies should be placed on their back to sleep, placing a baby on his tummy to play a few times a day is recommended.
Occasionally, babies will become fussy when placed on their tummy, so parents should increase the intervals the child in on their tummy to play and utilize the tips above to make tummy time fun. When gradually encouraged, most babies will learn to enjoy tummy time and will reap the benefits of better head control, arm and back strength and fine motor and sensory development.
Children who skip the crawling milestone and go directly to walking can have problems with their coordination, weight shifting during walking, and with fine motor skills. Healthy gross motor development begins early on in a baby’s life, and tummy time is an essential way to provide total body strength and coordination.