What Is Tummy Time?

What Is The Purpose of Tummy Time & What Is It Good For?

When you take baby home from the hospital, you’re given a ton of instructions, information, and advice on how to care for your new family member.  But in all of the excitement and anxiety of caring for your newborn, most of that goes out the window! When it comes to the early development of your newborn, one of the cornerstones is known as tummy time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most parents are encouraged to start practicing tummy time as early the first day home from the hospital! If that seems soon, it might be – so definitely discuss with your pediatrician first (2-4 months is more typical)! But if you’re curious about what is the purpose of tummy time or even wondering what is tummy time good for, keep reading as we try to break it down for you.

What is tummy time?

Tummy time is essential to your baby’s growth and an important tool in her cognitive and sensory development. Tummy time basically means that baby is placed face down, usually on a low, semi-hard surface like a yoga or play mat on the floor, and she is encouraged to use her upper body to push herself up to develop her neck and trunk muscles. This can be done a couple of times a day for no more that 3-5 minutes at a time. Once she gets stronger and has full control of her head and neck muscles (usually at around 2-4 months old) it’s okay to increase to around 20 minutes a day until, voila!, she can push herself up and over all on her own! That typically happens at around 6 months, but every baby is different so don’t be concerned if your little athlete achieves this goal earlier or later.

What are some alternatives to tummy time?

According to the website babysparks.com, the following are some alternatives to tummy time:

  •   Side laying – place baby on their side, supported by rolled-up blankets or towels.
  •   Lap laying – place baby on their tummy across your lap.
  •   Tummy-to-tummy – lie on your back and place baby on your chest.
  •   Tummy-down carry – carry baby face down, using your arms and hands to support their chest and belly.

(Tummy time is also sometimes referred to as belly time for babies.)

What happens if you don't do tummy time?

It’s possible that some motor skills might be delayed or take longer to develop if baby misses out on tummy time. Similarly, skills like crawling and building upper body strength could take a bit more time before you notice these new skills. Since not every baby takes to tummy time, it’s important to be patient with it. The benefits are not only plentiful, but it’s an important part of baby’s growth and development.

Can lack of tummy time cause developmental delays?

Chances are, if baby doesn’t get enough tummy time, that there could possibly be delays in sensory integration. All five senses have a role in cognitive development so it’s important to spend that down-on-the-floor time together. Tummy time is also great for bonding and anyone can get in on it – grandparents, caregivers, older siblings – it can be fun!

Can I do tummy time on the bed?

It’s best to do tummy time on a low, flat surface to avoid any falls. Also, placing baby on any fluffy kind of surface before she has mastered a push-up puts her at risk for suffocation. So never leave your baby unattended during tummy time. If for some reason she doesn’t seem to take to it, tummy time will still count if you place your baby on your lap or chest and see how she does from there. This also promotes bonding and can be part of a nighttime routine, as well.

Is sitting up as good as tummy time?

Experts agree that tummy time for babies provides a unique set of muscle building that simply sitting up does not. Tummy time also encourages motor skills so it’s important to get some tummy time in every day as baby grows and develops.

Should I let my baby cry during tummy time?

Hearing your baby cry is never fun. If she seems to really hate tummy time or you don’t feel it’s productive, maybe try something else for a while and come back to it later. Remember, tummy time still counts if it’s not on the floor. Laying on your back and using your own body with baby can be a fun and bonding experience, definitely worth trying!

What if the baby falls asleep during tummy time?

If baby falls asleep during tummy time immediately put her on her back. Baby should always be supervised during tummy time and if she’s tired, it’s probably best to wait until she’s feeling more awake. Also, baby should always be put to sleep on her back to avoid risks of SIDS and suffocation.

Can babies roll over without tummy time?

That first baby roll over is a Big Deal and it will definitely be helped by having lots of tummy time leading up to it. The muscles in your baby’s head, neck and shoulders need to be developed in order for baby to roll over on her own, and it helps if they’ve had the opportunity for a few minutes of tummy time every single day.

Do babies sleep deeper on their tummy?

Baby should always be put to sleep on her back. That is always, as in, all the time, for every sleep, until she is able to roll over on her own which usually occurs between 4-6 months. Until that time, risks of SIDS and/or suffocation can happen when baby’s airways are obstructed. This is also why it’s important to never put any extra blankets or bedding in baby’s sleep space, and why Dreamland baby is a great option for that deep sleep you’re looking for.

Dreamland baby makes both a swaddle (best with use for newborns) and a sleepsack. Both are gently weighted from shoulder to toe which helps to reduce stress and increase relaxation. Weighted blankets are proven to calm your baby with Deep Pressure Stimulation so they can relax and sleep soundly. They are lightweight and breathable for year-round use and come in sizes for your newborn through toddlerhood.

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