Tummy time is the time Your Child spends on the belly. Tummy time is important for children because it allows them to develop various muscles and all kinds of motor skills in the near future.
Why is tummy time important?
The increased use of reclined baby carriers, infant seats, and swings means that babies often don’t get enough time to build their core strength, use their arms, lift their heads, or stretch their backs. Tummy time helps infants get ready to explore the world around them. It helps Your Child develop the muscles of the neck, back, core, and shoulders. Those muscles are necessary to build the strength and coordination needed to meet infant developmental milestones like head control, rolling over, and crawling.
Note that carriers, where parents wear their babies, are a good alternative to tummy time as they work the same muscles as tummy time. It’s the reclined carriers that are an issue.
What if Your Child lacks tummy time?
A lack of tummy time may delay these milestones or even lead to conditions like positional torticollis (twisted neck) and flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be placed on their backs to sleep and on their tummy to play.
When should Your Child start tummy time?
You can start Your Child on tummy time the day you are home from the hospital by laying the little one on your chest. Starting early helps Your Child get used to it in time so as to derive the maximum benefits.
How much tummy time does Your Child need?
You should aim to give Your Child up to an hour of tummy time each day by 3 months of age. But it has to be spread over several sessions of about 5 minutes per session. Of course, Your Child will need time to get used to it. In the beginning, you may do 1 to 3 minutes at a time, 3 times a day. Then, work it up to 20 minutes per day, in 5 to 10 sessions, by the end of the first month.
In the second month, take it up 30-40 minutes per day. By the third month, extend it to 40-60 minutes per day and maintain it at that until Your Child starts crawling.
How to give Your Child enough tummy time
The easiest way to ensure that Your Child is getting enough tummy time is to make tummy time a part of the activities you’re already doing with Your Child on a daily basis, such as bathing, drying after bathing, applying lotion, and changing diapers.
In addition, you can create a time when you and Your Child practice tummy time. Do a few minutes each time and repeat as many as your baby can tolerate. Always watch out for signs of fatigue, such as crying or resting the face on the floor. Be sure to stop when Your Child gets tired.
Tummy time milestones
There are milestones you can use to monitor the progress of your baby’s tummy time practice:
- First month: Your Child may be making attempts to lift the head.
- Second month: Your Child should be able to spend more than one minute in tummy time but may tilt the head to one side.
- Third month: Your baby is able to lift the head up at a 45-degree angle and can put weight on arms, in a little push-ups attempt.
- Fourth month: Your Child should be able to lift the head up at a 90-degree angle and keep it centered.
- Fifth month: Your little one may stretch forward to reach for toys and can push up on hands with straight elbows.
- 6th month and above: Your Child may be able to roll from back to tummy and vice versa, reach and grab toys, pivot in a circle while lying on the belly, and even crawl to meet a moving toy. The little one may even prefer to play while lying on the tummy.
Dr. Prapasri Nuntnarumit (Developmental psychologist) (31 March 2021)