Tummy Time Techniques for Your Baby's Development
- Tummy time is crucial for building neck and shoulder muscles and enhancing motor skills in infants.
- It's recommended to begin tummy time soon after birth, gradually increasing the duration.
- Regular tummy time can prevent the flat head syndrome and aid in achieving developmental milestones.
- Tips for addressing common issues like acid reflux or muscle weakness during tummy time.
- Strategies to make tummy time enjoyable, such as using toys and varying activities.
Tummy Time In Babies
Just like adults, babies are also very aware of their tummies. The ‘gut feeling’ sums up the vital role that the tummy plays in our lives. Starting from hunger and pain to uneasy emotions, you feel it all in the tummy first. Similarly, tummy time is an integral part of childhood.
Studies say that tummy time, defined as placing a newborn on their stomach while awake and under parental supervision, has a good impact on infant growth and head shape. Paediatricians and maternity nurses frequently underestimate the value of giving newborns regular, supervised tummy time as part of infant care. Start tummy time soon after birth. Try doing 1-2 minutes of tummy time in the first few weeks. Increase your daily duration in increments by 5–10 minutes.
According to studies, the high prevalence of infants presenting with the flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) and the higher incidence of infants not completing developmental milestones in the first year of life are due to the lack of tummy time.
Benefits Of Tummy Time For Babies
Babies feel the safest when they are on their backs; that’s why it is best to lay the baby on his back while they are asleep. Tummy time is only for the times that they are awake. This position gives them ways to explore new sensations and postures, which are ultimately beneficial to their growth.
Let’s discuss the science behind the tummy time practice:
It is challenging for the baby to lie prone. Tummy time helps in the growth of the muscles necessary for rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. This is perfect for newborns and infants who are beginning to get neck control and are between the ages of 1-3 months.
Tummy time gives infants a chance to start mastering head control by strengthening neck muscles. As they try to elevate their heads to look around while lying prone, the muscles in the developing neck stretch and develop.
As newborns get older and stronger, they raise themselves to look around them and reach out to grab toys or other objects. This is usually seen between the ages of 4 and 7 months. The muscles of the neck, shoulders and back begin to strengthen eventually helping with rolling over, crawling, pulling oneself up to a standing position, and fine motor processes like balance, hand-eye coordination, and sensory coordination.
Tummy time helps them get much-needed relief from the pressure on the back of their skull. Infants who spend a lot of time on their backs during the first few months of life may end up with a flat patch on the back of the head or on one side. Plagiocephaly (flat spot), which commonly develops on the sides of the back of the skull is characterised by the formation of a flat area; it can be mild (just a little flattening) or severe (altered head shape). This was an unintended consequence of the well-known "Return to Sleep" campaign in the United States (1992), which sought to lower the rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by encouraging laying down babies on their backs.
Possible Challenges Faced During Tummy Time
The baby may not like or tolerate a tummy time in certain instances. A few possible challenges faced during tummy time practice are:
- A baby who generally spits up food may develop acid reflux during tummy time practised after feeding. Attempt tummy time 15-20 minutes before feeding in such cases.
- If the baby has muscle weakness, then you may have to prop his elbows with a rolled towel or a small pillow.
- Your baby may have poor eyesight, which prevents them from enjoying tummy time. Consult a paediatrician to resolve this issue.
Tips For Tummy Time
There are certain key points that the parent needs to follow to let the baby enjoy safe tummy time:
- The first tummy time can be on the chest of a parent to help the baby feel the warmth and connection. It also eases out the sudden change in posture and sensations.
- After a few sessions, for tummy time, spread out a blanket on the clean floor.
- Try a few quick tummy time sessions as soon as your baby wakes up from a nap or after a diaper change.
- During tummy time, have a toy (or toys) within your baby's grasp to encourage play and interaction.
- The duration and frequency of your tummy time activities can increase as your baby gets older.
- Tummy time should be attempted by parents two to three times per day for brief periods initially. The most important thing for parents to remember is that the infant should only engage in tummy time when they are awake and under supervision.
Tummy Time Changes In Special Cases
Tummy time is beneficial for infants who have a flat head syndrome or a flat spot on their head and can help alleviate both conditions. To give your baby some tummy time, place them on your lap. Place your infant so that their back is facing you. Next, speak or sing to your child. Ask your young child to turn and face you. Spend 10 to 15 minutes doing this exercise.
Don’t Skip Tummy Time!
Nurses working in child wards, obstetrical, neonatal, and paediatric departments need to teach the parents about the value of tummy time. If your baby doesn't appear to like tummy time, try adding some diversity. Sing songs, keep bright toys close by, get on the floor, and face your infant. Some infants may require a little more time to get adjusted to tummy time, but it is vital for their growth and development.
Tummy time is a simple yet pivotal practice in a baby’s early development. It not only fosters physical growth but also encourages exploration and interaction with the surrounding world. By incorporating tummy time into a daily routine, parents can significantly contribute to their baby's health and developmental milestones. Despite some challenges, with the right approach and perseverance, tummy time can become a rewarding experience for both the baby and parents. Remember, every moment spent on the tummy is a step forward in your baby’s growth journey.
Did you like our Article?
- Chizawsky LL, Scott‐Findlay S. Tummy Time!. Nursing for Women's Health. 2005 Oct 1;9(5):382-7.
- Davis BE, Moon RY, Sachs HC, Ottolini MC. Effects of sleep position on infant motor development. Pediatrics. 1998 Nov 1;102(5):1135-40.
- Wittmeier K, Mulder K. Time to revisit tummy time: a commentary on plagiocephaly and development. Paediatrics & child health. 2017 Jun 1;22(3):159-61.
Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Dec, 06 2023
Dr. Lozynska Liudmyla Yaroslavivna
Fact checked By
Dr. Pulyk Nataliya Omelanivna