Becoming a new parent comes with a litany of things to worry about: Is my baby bowlegged? Is my baby arching his back? Does she have kneecaps? It seems like the questions never end. One of the big questions many new parents ask is “what is the deal with tummy time?” You’ll hear a lot about it as a new parent, and it can quickly become stressful. However, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s everything you need to know about tummy time.
What Is Tummy Time?
This is a great exercise for your baby to begin strengthening muscles and helps them develop their motor skills. It can also be a bit of a confusing time, as they are still getting used to building their neck and shoulder muscles, so they might not immediately feel confident on the tummy right away. That’s totally normal.
When To Start With Tummy Time
A lot of pediatricians recommend starting tummy time right away, about two weeks into your baby’s life. It will help your baby when it comes to crawling, so starting early can’t hurt. You baby may not initially love tummy time, but that’s okay. It”s still important to do so that they can get used to it. It’s best to do tummy time after resting but not immediately after feeding time. After a diaper change is also a good time.
How Long Should Tummy Time Be?
As with all exercises, it’s important to work your way up when it comes to tummy time length. You can also break up tummy time into shorter, separate segments. You should aim for 15 minutes of tummy time per day. You can try 5 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening. After nap-time is a great time to get this in.
How To Do Tummy Time
You can get your baby a play mat that will be the perfect area for tummy time. There are plenty of safe and comfortable options out there, and there are even play mats specifically for newborns. These are usually colorful and keep your baby entertained and engaged. However, you can also use a clean towel if you don’t have a play mat just yet. Make sure there is no dirt or debris on the floor.
If your baby is having some trouble, using a pillow or baby lounger can also be useful. Make sure you are paying close attention to your baby throughout the whole time. As your baby gets stronger, you can eventually remove the pillow.
Having toys around during tummy time can also be helpful, especially with older babies. Begin by placing your baby on their tummy and making sure you are supervising the whole time. Don’t be alarmed if your baby begins to cry, take it as a chance to be supportive and soothing. Making sure you give praise at the end of every tummy time session. It will get easier for both of you with time.
Tummy Time Benefits
There are plenty of benefits for tummy time apart from strengthening the core, neck, and shoulders. It can also promote head support and prevent babies from getting a flat spot on their heads, which can happen if they stay in one position too much after birth.
One of the most important goals of tummy time is to get your baby to start lifting her head, as she can develop her muscles this way to lift and hold her head on her own.