What You Need to Know About Tummy Time
WHAT IS TUMMY TIME?
Tummy time is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the time that your baby spends on his tummy, while awake and supervised. Feel free to think of it as your baby’s first workout—which it really is. Spending time on your tummy may not seem all that impressive, until you consider the fact that newborns have virtually no trunk strength. Imagine trying to lift your head while a 15lb sandbag is on your neck. Not comfortable. Not easy. For newborns, tummy time can be as simple as lying chest-to-chest on Mom or Dad, and can also be combined with skin-to-skin contact. However as your baby gets older and stronger, you can lay him stomach-down on the floor for longer periods of time. Soon enough, you’ll be aiming to have most of the waking hours spent on his tummy, on the floor, to facilitate rolling, crawling, and eventually walking.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
We know that babies should always be put to sleep on their backs, and since newborns spend the majority of their time sleeping, they run the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly, otherwise known as flat head syndrome, as well as positional torticollis, also known as a stiff neck. Severe cases of plagiocephaly can distort facial features, while torticollis causes head tilting and discomfort. Because babies are born with soft skulls, prolonged positioning in one spot can cause flatness. However, regular tummy time can counteract this, and is extremely helpful for both plagiocephaly and torticollis.
Even more importantly, tummy time is crucial for developing the core muscles of the neck, back, and shoulders. It promotes trunk stability and head control as your baby works his entire upper body. It’s essential for motor, visual, and sensory development. Think about it. When your baby is flat on his back on an infant positioner, there’s not much he can do in the way of moving. He may look straight ahead or turn his head from side to side, but he isn’t really working any of his core muscles. When placed on his tummy, however, he’ll quickly (it may not feel like it in the moment, but babies really do build that neck strength in no time at all) learn to lift his head long enough to look about freely, taking in the world from a different perspective.
Research shows that lack of tummy time can cause a delay in your baby reaching physical developmental milestones, and it’s not hard to see why. Tummy time encourages babies to move independently, such as reaching and pivoting, and helps them build the skills that are often the precursors to crawling. If you needed even more reasons to give your baby plenty of time on his tummy, tummy time is also associated with better cardiovascular health and body mass index, as well as a lower risk of SIDS.
WHEN SHOULD I START?
Right away. It can seem daunting when your baby is just a newborn, but start off with him on your chest. It’s a natural position to assume with your little one, and more comfortable for him than starting off on the floor. Baby nest is a great tool that not only makes your life so much easier, but also comes with a whole lot of benefits for your baby.
Tummy Time: How to Get Started
So many mums and dads love the Bitsy-Boo nests for tummy time. The rounded bumper gives babies a chance to enjoy their tummy time. By placing baby’s arms and upper body over the bumper, they’ll appreciate the comfortable elevation. Once baby is positioned on their tummies, try these activities for making tummy time fun time:
- Place a baby-safe play mirror or busy book nearby so they can try and reach for it.
- Stand up and sing songs or talk to baby, the idea is for them to try and lift their head to see you.
- Lay an infant activity mat under the dock.
Always remember, if your baby falls asleep during tummy time, flip him over immediately so he can snooze safely on his back.