In 2005 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that babies be put to sleep on their backs with the Back to Sleep Campaign. This decreased the SIDS rate by an astonishing 50%. However, in recent years pediatricians have noticed an increase in cranial asymmetry in babies (flattened area on baby’s head). This is flattening is often compounded by time spent during the day with head rested against a stroller, car seat, bouncy seat or swing. While putting your baby on his back for sleeping remains a vital rule of newborn care, it’s also important to ensure that he spends time during the day on his belly for “tummy time” as well.
Benefits of Tummy Time
Tummy time builds and strengthens the muscles in your baby’s neck, back, shoulders, and legs, which sets an essential foundation for motor skill milestones such as rolling over, crawling, grasping objects and beyond.
How to Practice Tummy Time
Before baby’s umbilical cord falls off you can recline and place baby on his stomach on your chest. The sooner you offer tummy time the more comfortable baby will be in that position. A few times throughout the day use a nursing/Boppy pillow (a regular pillow or rolled up blanket works well too) and place your baby on his tummy with his chest on the pillow and his arms stretched out in front of him. Place a mirror or toy within reach to add a little playtime to this great development and exercise activity. If your baby cries, there’s no need to push it. Simply try again later. Soon, time spent on his tummy will add up and he’ll be comfortable playing in that position—and will eventually start rolling, sitting up and crawling from that position.
Where to Practice
Tummy time can be done inside, outside, on your chest in a reclined position, across your thighs, or even propped up on a boppy pillow. Lay on your stomach with the child so they can see you and stay engaged longer. Offer toys, mirrors, and books!
Tummy Time Abilities by Age
3 months: Props on forearms
4 months: Props on wrists
6 months: Pivots on stomach, can put majority of weight on one hand
6 and 7 months: Begins pushing up on hands and knees
Tummy time is very important for the motor development of a baby and to help prevent cranial asymmetry.
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