By: Angy Talbot – ECFE Blog Writer
When my daughter was an infant she spent a lot of time on her back and I needed to make time for her to play on her tummy. Today, we put children to bed on their backs (prevention of S.I.D.S), and we have all different kinds of seats, swings, and Exersaucers, which do not allow children to play on their tummies. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that babies sleep on their backs but spend wakeful time on their tummies. “Back to sleep and tummy to play.” Tummy Time is time that infants spend awake and playing on their tummies. Tummy time allows for the strengthening of the infant’s head, neck, and arm muscles. It also helps prevent infants from developing a flat head called positional plagiocephaly. Infants can begin tummy time early. As stated by Dr. Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic, “Start by laying your newborn on his or her tummy across your lap two or three times a day for short periods of time. As your baby grows stronger, place him or her on a blanket on the floor (around one month old). Arrange age-appropriate toys within his or her reach. As your baby gets used to tummy time, place your baby on his or her stomach more frequently or for longer periods of time. For a 3 to 4-month-old baby, some research suggests aiming for at least 20 minutes of tummy time a day. “Your baby should always be supervised during tummy time, and if they become fussy, change his or her activity by interacting with them and providing entertainment with toys, singing, books, or massage. If your child becomes sleepy on their tummies, put them on their backs in their crib.
For the best results for tummy time, make sure your child isn’t hungry or tired. It is also best to wait awhile after eating or drinking. It is not as comfortable on a full stomach. Ideally, build tummy time into your daily routine. It worked best for my daughter’s tummy time each morning around 10:30 am, an hour after she ate and had her morning nap. I would lay her on the blanket on the floor and on her tummy for about 15 minutes while playing with her. When she got stronger, we had tummy time twice a day totaling about half an hour a day. If your child is enjoying time on their tummies they can always play a little longer. If your baby starts to cry or gets upset it’s a good time to pick them up. The more practice infant’s get on their tummies the more they will enjoy it!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Tummy Time it is always best to talk to your child’s health care provider.
Here are some wonderful resources on Tummy Time:
Baby Zone – Q&A Tummy Time: When do I start? How Do I Do It?
March of Dimes: Tummy Time
Baby Center – Top Five Reasons for Tummy Time