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    Tummy Time: What Is It, and at What Age Should You Start It for Your Baby?

    Growth & Development

    Tummy Time: What Is It, and at What Age Should You Start It for Your Baby?

    Updated on 28 August 2023

    Medically Reviewed by

    Kusum Sabharwal

    Obstetrician & Gynecologist - MBBS| DGO

    View Profile

    Whether your baby likes it or not, but tummy time is crucial for the development of his motor skills. It also removes the extra air from his system. Let’s learn more about tummy-time and the benefits of remaining belly-up in this article.

    What is Tummy Time?

    Tummy time is the time when you place your baby on his tummy to play. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that the baby’s tummy time should begin as soon as you take him home from the hospital. Tummy time is an essential activity for babies where they are placed on their stomachs while awake and supervised. This helps to strengthen their neck, shoulder, and core muscles, promoting proper development and preventing flat spots on the back of their heads. Tummy time also encourages babies to lift their heads and explore their surroundings, aiding in motor skills and cognitive development.

    Things to remember during tummy time

    Tummy time is a crucial aspect of baby care as it helps to strengthen the muscles present in neck, shoulder, and upper body. Moreover, it also helps to prevent the formation of flat spots on the back of the head. Keep the following things in mind:

    1. Supervision

    Make sure to supervise your baby during tummy time to keep them safe. Place them on a firm, flat surface such as a mat on the floor.

    2. Start Early

    Begin tummy time when your baby is a few weeks old, as recommended by your pediatrician. Start with short sessions, around 2-3 minutes, a few times a day, gradually increasing the duration as your baby gets used to it.

    3. Engagement

    Get down on the floor with your baby to engage and interact with them during tummy time. Use toys, rattles, or colorful objects to catch their attention and encourage reaching and grasping.

    4. Variety

    Vary the tummy time positions. You can hold your baby against your chest, place them on your lap, or even lay them across your thighs. Your baby will love these activities and will look forward to tummy time.

    5. Comfort

    Use a small rolled-up towel or a small cushion under your baby's chest to help prop them up if they are struggling to lift their head. Make sure it's placed securely and doesn't restrict their movement.

    6. Distraction

    If your baby becomes fussy during tummy time, try using a mirror or placing their favorite toys slightly out of reach to encourage them to lift their head and engage.

    7. Consistency

    Aim for tummy time sessions every day. As your baby grows and becomes more comfortable, you can gradually increase the length of each session.

    8. After Feeding

    Avoid tummy time immediately after feeding, as it might be uncomfortable for your baby. Wait for about 30 minutes to an hour after feeding.

    Also read: Constipation in babies: Symptoms and Cure

    Benefits of tummy time

    Tummy time is a crucial activity for infants that offers a range of benefits for their physical and cognitive development. Here are some of the key benefits of tummy time:

    1. Strengthens Muscles

    Tummy time helps develop the muscles in the neck, shoulders, arms, and upper body. This helps babies build the strength needed to hold up their heads, roll over, and eventually crawl.

    2. Prevents Flat Head Syndrome

    Spending too much time on their backs can lead to flat spots on a baby's head. Tummy time encourages babies to change their head position and reduces the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome).

    3. Motor Development

    Through tummy time, babies learn to push up with their arms and lift their heads, which are essential skills for crawling, sitting, and eventually standing and walking.

    4. Sensory Stimulation

    Tummy time provides sensory experiences as babies feel different textures against their skin and engage with toys and objects around them.

    5. Core Strength

    Tummy time engages a baby's core muscles as they lift their head and chest. Developing these core muscles is crucial for overall stability and future gross motor skills.

    6. Cognitive Development

    Engaging with toys and objects during tummy time can stimulate a baby's cognitive development by encouraging curiosity, exploration, and problem-solving.

    7. Speech and Language Development

    Tummy time allows babies to see faces and engage in conversations, which contributes to early speech and language development.

    8. Digestive Health

    Gentle pressure on the tummy during tummy time can aid in digestion and help alleviate discomfort from gas and colic.

    To reap these benefits, it's important to ensure that tummy time is done safely and comfortably. Always supervise your baby during tummy time, make it an enjoyable experience with toys and interaction, and gradually increase the duration as your baby becomes more accustomed to it. If you have any concerns about your baby's development or tummy time, consult your pediatrician.

    Conclusion

    Be regular with your baby’s tummy time. It is the easiest way to ensure the proper development of your baby. Tummy time allows easy passage of gas and prevents issues like colic in babies. It also helps the baby in gaining neck control.

    References

    1. Hewitt, L., Kerr, E., Stanley, R. M., & Okely, A. D. (2020). Tummy Time and Infant Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics

    2. Hewitt, L., Stanley, R. M., Cliff, D., & Okely, A. D. (2019). Objective measurement of tummy time in infants (0-6 months): A validation study.

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    Medically Reviewed by

    Kusum Sabharwal

    Obstetrician & Gynecologist - MBBS| DGO

    View Profile

    Written by

    Shaveta Kaushik

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