Baby’s early years are some of the most important years of their development. 90% of a child’s nervous system develops by age 7. Babies are always learning, observing, and experiencing everything around them. There is a great opportunity to teach them new things and help set their development on the right path. Encourage this by giving your baby plenty of tummy time. It’s a great way to help babies develop muscles and observation skills.
What is tummy time? How much tummy time does the baby need? At what age should the baby stop tummy time?
Tummy time is exactly what it sounds like—time, baby spends on their stomach while awake (and under the watchful eye of a parent). Think of it as a mini-workout for the baby. When it comes to a baby’s development, it’s very important to learn why tummy time is a major step to other milestones, how much time the baby needs, and how to make it fun.
Tummy Time - The Basics
When we talk about tummy time, what exactly do we mean?
Tummy time is placing your babies on their tummy to play. It helps babies develop the muscles that are necessary to lift their heads and to sit up, crawl, and walk. It is a perfect way to allow your baby to develop essential neck, back, and arm muscles. You can begin regular tummy time as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital. Newborn tummy time should consist of 2-3 minutes daily. As your baby gets older and stronger, you should increase the time up to a total of 20 minutes a day. Once the baby starts crawling, around 8-9 months, it is not as essential to do tummy time.
But, how to do tummy time?
Place safe objects and toys close to your baby. Move them from side to side in front of your baby’s face. This encourages them to move and lift.
Always remember to supervise your baby at all times during tummy time, especially as your little one learns to roll over.
Benefits of Tummy time for a Newborn
Tummy time is one of your baby’s first exercises and needs to be a part of their daily routine. As they put weight on their forearms, their upper body strength increases with daily practice.
There are various benefits of tummy time when your child spends their waking hours in a belly-down position:
1. Reduces chances of flat spots on heads
Tummy time helps decrease the risk of positional plagiocephaly (also known as a flat head syndrome), which happens when a baby’s head flattens in some areas from lying on their back.
2. Promotes sensory development
Tummy time allows babies to experience different positions and body movements. It gives them a different view of the world. They get the sense of finding out how their arms and legs move.
3. Help motor skill development
Tummy time improves total development and gross motor development. When babies are placed on their tummy, they are allowed to practice lifting their head, lifting and turning their head, moving their legs and pushing up with their arms, strengthening the baby’s head, neck, shoulder, and muscles which they will need to master motor skills such as their overall ability to move, crawl and roll.
It takes small baby steps to achieve any parental goal while raising a child. Babies need some sort of stimulation to keep them engaged. It can be the best time to play and interact with your child to strengthen the bond of love and care.
What should you do if your baby hates tummy time?
Tummy time is an important building block in a baby’s gross motor development. Don’t be surprised if your baby hates tummy time and those initial attempts are met with some resistance. Babies usually don’t like it and get cranky about it, because they’re not just used to it. Eventually, your baby will get used to being on his stomach and start to enjoy this daily routine.
Hearing your babies cry during tummy time is very hard, but it doesn’t mean you should give up on tummy time. The more fun you make the experience, the less your baby will fight to be on their belly. You can follow the below steps to ease your baby into feeling comfortable playing on their belly:
- Go slow
Start to convince your baby slowly that tummy time is fun. Start with doing this activity 2-3 minutes daily and then gradually increase the length of time.
- Move to his level
One easy way to coax your baby is to join them by moving to their level. Try getting down with them to keep them focussed. Parent participation makes tummy time more fun. Lie on your tummy and talk to them to make tummy time more enjoyable. Entertain them with a special toy, play some games with them, read a book with them.
- Use plastic mirrors
Mirrors are a great way to keep your babies happy during tummy time. Use a non-breakable mirror, so that your baby can see their reflection. They’ll get excited to see the reflection that helps to keep them engaged during tummy time.
- Put your baby on your tummy
If your baby hates tummy time, try placing your baby on your tummy or chest. It’s a great way to build a baby’s strength. Make some funny faces and silly noises. Your baby will enjoy looking at your face and hearing your voice. This is a great way to engage your baby during tummy time.
- Get your baby checked by a Chiropractor
An uncomfortable or fussy baby during tummy time can be a sign of tension in the body or the nervous system. Getting your baby checked for subluxations during the early stages of life will help them transition better through these new activities. A well-balanced body is able to relax and adapt better to new experiences.
All babies grow and learn from the environment surrounding them, and tummy time provide them a way to explore in a different position. Remember- every bit of tummy time makes a difference. Don’t get upset, if you have done plenty of tummy time with your baby, but are worried about them for not meeting their milestones, bring your concerns to your baby’s pediatrician for an evaluation, who would offer the best advice to follow.
I am here to advocate, educate, and help families THRIVE. I am always more than happy to answer questions and clarify. I hope that by being transparent, I can continue to serve my Thrive families and build trust with them.
Thrive Family Chiropractic, LLC was founded by Dr. Padilla in the fall of 2017 with the idea that Chiropractic care should be convenient and accessible to all, with a focus on facilitating care for families, women during pregnancy and children. Throughout her years of practice, Dr. Padilla has seen how challenging it can be for families to incorporate Chiropractic into their lifestyles and make it a priority rather than a luxury. With this thought in mind, Dr. Padilla wants to provide the best, most personalized and individualized Chiropractic care to women during pregnancy and to children of all ages, to help improve their lifestyle, prevent chronic illness and allow them to express their full potential in life, sports, school.
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