Tummy time is an important position for your baby. It allows your baby to develop and strengthen their head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Tummy time is an essential skill to prepare for sitting, crawling, standing, and walking.
You can start tummy time in the first week, as soon as your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off. Aim to engage in tummy time for about 3-5 minutes at a time for approx. 15-20 minutes per day.
A great way to start integrating tummy time into your routine is by exploring different positions. This will make tummy time fun and interesting while increasing your baby’s endurance and strength.
- Tummy time on chest- Lie down on your back or in a reclined position. Place your baby on top of your chest or on your tummy.
- Tummy time over roll/boppy- Place a boppy or a towel roll on the floor. Position your baby’s elbow’s on the towel/boppy. Use your hands to cup baby’s elbows so baby maintains their positioning on the towel/boppy.
- Tummy time over leg- While sitting on the floor, extend one leg out long. Place your baby either on your leg or over your leg.
- Tummy time on a wedge- Use a firm wedge and place your baby at the top of the incline.
- Tummy time on the floor
Tips to make tummy time successful:
- Get down on the floor with your baby- Your baby wants YOUR attention. Their tolerance to tummy time will greatly increase when they get to engage with you. Get down onto your tummy and engage in face-to-face interactions.
- Talk to your baby- Your baby loves to hear your voice. This is an excellent time for your baby to listen to you, watch your mouth movements, and engage in ‘conversation.’
- Use engaging toys- Toys that have texture, sounds, and bright colors are interesting to your baby.
- Toy tracking- Hold a toy slightly above your baby’s eye level and move it side to side. You want your baby to be able to track the toy.
- Tummy time should ALWAYS be a supervised activity.
- Do not place your baby on a soft surface. Always use a firm or semi-firm surface
* If your baby is having difficulty with tummy time or is not able to track a toy evenly to both sides, contact your local pediatric physical therapist.
About: Dr. Suma Metla is a pediatric physical therapist based on Oahu, Hawaii. Her practice, Three Little Ducks, is aimed at empowering families to have the skills to support their baby’s development through play!