When to Start Tummy Time: A Comprehensive Guide for New Parents




Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

As a parent, you want to give your baby every opportunity to develop and grow. Tummy time is one simple but powerful way to promote your baby’s physical and cognitive development.

But when should you start tummy time, and how do you know if your baby is ready?

In this article, we’ll explore the age recommendations for tummy time, the significance of developmental milestones, and the cues your baby may give you to begin tummy time.

We’ll also hare tips for making tummy time fun and engaging. So whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced caregiver, read on to learn more about the perfect time to start tummy time and how to make the most of this important activity.

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is a simple but important activity that involves placing your baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This position helps your baby develop important physical, cognitive, and social-emotional skills. It also helps prevent flat spots, which can develop when a baby spends too much time or longer stretches on their back.

What Are the Benefits of Tummy Time?

Tummy time has numerous benefits for babies, including:

  • Helps babies develop their motor skills, including crawling, rolling, and sitting up.
  • Strengthens a baby’s back, neck and shoulder muscles, which are crucial for good posture and movement.
  • Reduces flat head syndrome
  • Improves digestion and helps relieve gas and colic

When Do You Start Tummy Time?

Tummy time is a crucial activity for your baby’s development, but when should you start?

Age Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting tummy time as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. This can help your baby develop important physical skills such as head control and overall muscle development. However, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the duration and frequency of tummy time as your baby gets stronger and more comfortable.

Significance of Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones such as rolling over, crawling, and sitting up are important indicators of your baby’s physical development. Tummy time plays a crucial role in achieving these milestones by strengthening the neck and core muscles necessary for these movements. By starting tummy time early and consistently, you can help your baby reach these milestones on time or even earlier.

Importance of Adequate Head and Neck Control

One of the primary goals of tummy time is to help your baby strengthen their head and neck muscles. This is important for preventing flat head syndrome (although the flat spots would round out as babies grow older) and for promoting overall physical development. With proper head and neck control, your baby interact with their environment, explore their surroundings, and interact with caregivers.

Baby Cues

Your baby will give you cues that they are ready for tummy time, such as lifting their head while lying on their back or showing interest in reaching for objects. It’s important to listen to your baby and follow their lead when starting tummy time. You can start with brief sessions of just three to five minutes at a time and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets more comfortable.

Factors that Might Affect When A Baby Can Start Learning Tummy Time

Here are the factors affecting tummy time start time:

  • While full term babies can begin tummy time in the first week, premature babies may need to wait until they have adequate weight gain and strength before starting tummy time.
  • Certain medical conditions may require your baby to delay tummy time until they have received treatment or cleared by a medical professional.
  • Some parents prefer to start tummy time earlier or later based on their personal beliefs or preferences. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician for guidance and support.

What Is the Recommended Duration for Tummy Time Sessions?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting tummy time as soon as your infant comes home from the hospital and increasing it gradually over time. Aim for at least 30-60 minutes at time per day, spread out in short intervals throughout the day. However, every newborn is different, and it’s important to follow your baby’s cues and adjust the duration and frequency of tummy time to their individual needs.

What Are the Best Ways to Make Tummy Time Sessions Fun?

Many babies may resist tummy time at first, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s important to be patient and persistent to help your newborn get comfortable with this important activity.

Here are some tummy time tips for making tummy time more enjoyable and engaging, especially if your baby hates tummy time:

Start Early and Slowly

Start with short sessions of just a few minutes and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets more comfortable. You can also try alternating tummy time with other activities to prevent frustration and burnout. Do tummy time after your baby wakes up from their nap or sleep. Place your baby across your lap and maintain eye contact while talking to them.

Use Toys and Props

Use tummy time toys, mirrors, or colorful objects to keep your baby’s attention during tummy time and to encourage them to lift their head. Put the toys in front of your baby. Use toys with different textures for sensory development.

Place baby on tummy time pillow or cushion to provide extra support and comfort.

Make It Fun and Interactive

Get down on the floor with your baby and interact with them during tummy time. Sing songs, make silly noises, or play peek-a-boo to keep your baby engaged and make tummy time a bonding experience.

Different Positions

Your baby may prefer different tummy time positions, so don’t be afraid to experiment. You can try chest-to-chest tummy time for a close face to face with your baby. You can also lay your baby’s chest or stomach against your lap for brief periods as part of your daily routine.

Make Your Baby Get Used to Tummy Time Early

When moving around the house, it is recommended to carry your baby belly down, which is a good alternative position to carrying the baby upright. Likewise, link it to other routines such as diaper change and bath time.

Don’t put too much pressure on your baby’s head, so minimize the time babies spend in bouncers, car seats and carriers.

Talk to Your Pediatrician

If your baby continues to resist tummy time or if you have concerns about their development, talk to your pediatrician. They can provide guidance and support to help you and your baby make the most of this important activity.

Remember, every baby is different, and it may take some time for your little one to get comfortable with tummy time. With patience, persistence, and a little creativity, you can help your baby develop the skills they need for a happy and healthy future.

FAQs on Tummy Time Exercises

Here are some frequently asked questions about when to start newborn tummy time:

How Can I Tell If My Baby is Ready for Tummy Time?

Your baby will give you cues when they are ready for tummy time, such as lifting their head while lying on their back or showing interest in reaching for objects. It’s important to listen to your baby and follow their lead when starting tummy time.

Can I Do Tummy Time After Feeding My Baby?

It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after feeding your baby before putting baby one the floor or tummy time mat. Placing baby on their belly after feeding can put pressure on their stomach which can result in discomfort and an increased risk of spitting up.

What If My Baby Falls Asleep During Tummy Time?

It’s not uncommon for young and older babies to fall asleep during tummy time, especially if they are tired or overstimulated. If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, you can gently roll them onto their back and let them sleep. Keep a close watch when you put your baby on the floor for tummy time, especially if its a full hour session.

About the author

Latest posts