In the early 90s, The American Academy of Pediatrics began its back to sleep program, which encouraged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs in order to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. This program was successful in reducing SIDS deaths, but it also led to babies spending a lot more time on their backs and a lot less time on their tummies, which created the need for Tummy Time. The widespread use of carriers that double as car seats has also decreased the amount of time that babies spend on their tummies.
What is Tummy Time? Tummy Time is allowing your baby to be on his or her stomach while awake, and while a parent or caregiver is there to play with the baby. Tummy Time is safe and easy, and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Why is Tummy Time important? 1. Tummy Time helps to shape a baby’s skull by preventing flat spots from developing on the backs of babies heads by reducing the amount of time that they spend on their backs. 2. Tummy Time also strengthens the muscles of the head, back, neck, and shoulders, and prevents stiff neck muscles. 3. Tummy Time helps babies to develop skills such as lifting their heads, rolling over, pushing up with their arms, sitting up, crawling, and, later, pulling up to stand and walk.
When can your baby begin Tummy Time? Your baby can begin Tummy Time as soon as you get home from the hospital. The earlier you start, the better your baby will tolerate being on his or her tummy.
How should you perform Tummy Time? Tummy Time is done on a firm surface, without extra blankets or soft toys. You can start off with 3-5 minutes of Tummy Time 2-3 times per day, then work your way up from there.
What if your baby doesn’t like Tummy Time? Your baby may not like it at first, and may only tolerate it for a few minutes at a time, but will get use to it as his or her muscles develop. Be patient and don’t give up. Your baby will be enjoying Tummy Time before you know it.
You can increase your baby’s tolerance of Tummy Time by making it fun and comfortable. Here are some tips: 1. Provide your baby with a soft blanket to lay on. 2. Lay on your tummy face to face with your baby. 3. Put a mirror in front of your baby, so your baby can look as his or her face.
4. Lay on your back, while your baby lays face down on your stomach or chest. Talk or sing to your baby so he or she will raise his or her head to look at you. 5. Allow your baby to lay face down across your lap. 6. Give your baby a favorite toy to play with while on his or her tummy. As your baby gets stronger, you can start to move the toy away and watch your baby try to reach for it or move towards it.
7. Place a small towel, blanket, or pillow under the baby’s chest so your baby can lift his or her head. 8. Allow an older sibling to get involved in your baby’s Tummy Time under your supervision. 9. Encourage other family members to get involved as well.
Do you have to buy anything? No, but if you want to you can buy a Tummy Time mat with toys attached. Safety Tips: Remember: Tummy Time is always a supervised activity and is always conducted while your baby is awake. Remember: “Back to Sleep, Front to Play” - Always put your baby on his or her back to sleep.
For more information, ask your nurse or pediatrician.