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3 Things to Know About Baby’s Tummy Time

August 23, 2013

1. Tummy time is an important playtime for babies!

Tummy time is playtime for babies when they are awake. When your baby is awake and can be supervised by an adult, they should be placed on their tummy on a firm surface for about 5 minutes to play. This activity can start as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital, and babies should have tummy time about 2 to 3 times per day. Tummy time helps strengthen a baby's muscles.

Tummy time is important for babies because it helps develop and strengthen their muscles, especially in their neck and back. In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched the "Back to Sleep" campaign, encouraging parents and caregivers to place their babies on their back to go to sleep. Since then, the rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) have decreased by almost 50%. Since babies are sleeping on their backs, and may also spend time in car seats, infant carriers, or infant swings on their backs, we encourage parents and caregivers to provide tummy time for babies so that their muscles will develop and strengthen.

 2.  Tummy time helps prepare babies for future gross motor milestones.

We encourage babies to have supervised tummy time so that their muscles can be strengthened, so that they will achieve gross motor milestones such as rolling over and sitting up on time. By participating in tummy time every day, a baby's neck and back muscles will become stronger. These muscles are very important in helping a baby learn how to roll over, sit up, slide around on their belly, and eventually crawl. Over time, as your baby participates in tummy time and performs these gross motor milestones, all of your baby's muscles will become stronger.

3.  If your baby doesn’t seem to like tummy time, here are some helpful tips.

Some babies might not like tummy time because it is new to them, and they enjoy being held and feeling cozy in your arms. It also may be a little difficult for them at first, because their muscles are not very strong yet. You can try starting tummy time for 30 seconds or a minute a few times a day, and then gradually increasing the duration of tummy time as your baby becomes stronger.

If your baby does not like being placed on the floor for tummy time, you can lie down on your back and put your baby on your chest. Your baby will try to lift his head to see your face. When you place your baby on a firm surface for tummy time, you can also put a colorful baby toys in a circle around him. Your baby will try to reach for the toys. If there is an older sibling that is a young child, the sibling can also get on the floor to play with the baby while being watched by a parent or caregiver. Babies enjoy young children, and younger children will also like their new role as the "big brother" or "big sister" while they are playing with the baby.