Why is Tummy Time Important: The Benefits of Tummy Time Explained

12 Min Read
Why is Tummy Time Important: The Benefits of Tummy Time Explained

Being a new parent can sometimes feel like you are learning a whole new language, with all the terms and information you’re given from everyone about what is best for your baby. One term you’ll come across often is "tummy time,” the common practice experts highlight as a key developmental routine for your baby. But what exactly is tummy time, and why is it so important for your little one's development? Let’s dive into the world of tummy time, exploring what it is, its many benefits, and how to make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is a crucial activity for your baby that involves placing them on their stomachs while awake and supervised. This simple activity offers a range of developmental benefits for babies and is recommended by pediatricians. The position is essentially your baby’s first workout – teaching them to lift their head and engage their neck muscles. Tummy time can begin as early as a few days after birth, and as your baby grows, it becomes an integral part of their daily routine.

Why Is Tummy Time Important?

Pediatricians and experts consider tummy time a crucial aspect of your child’s development. During this part of your daily routine, you and your baby have an opportunity to connect, learn, and grow together. Here are some of the benefits of tummy time:

  1. Strengthening neck and upper body muscles: Tummy time is like a mini workout for your baby. When they are placed on their tummy, they have to lift their head, which strengthens their neck and upper body muscles. This newfound strength is essential for achieving important milestones like rolling over, sitting up, and eventually crawling.
  2. Preventing flat spots: Babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs, especially during sleep. While this is crucial to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it can also lead to the development of flat spots on the back of the baby's head. Tummy time provides an opportunity for your baby to relieve pressure on the back of their head, reducing the likelihood of flat head syndrome.
  3. Enhancing motor skills: As your baby becomes more comfortable with tummy time, they'll start to use their arms and legs to push themselves up. This motion helps improve their gross motor skills, setting the stage for crawling and, eventually, walking.
  4. Visual and sensory stimulation: Tummy time allows your baby to explore their surroundings from a different angle. They can see objects, people, and their own hands and feet more clearly, which provides valuable visual and sensory stimulation. This exposure to new sights and experiences supports their cognitive development.
  5. Building core strength: Just like adults benefit from a strong core, babies do too! Tummy time engages your baby's abdominal muscles, helping them develop core strength. This foundation is vital for sitting, standing, and other physical milestones they'll achieve as they grow.
  6. Aiding digestion and reducing discomfort: Tummy time helps alleviate common infant issues like gas and reflux. The gentle pressure on their tummy can assist in moving trapped gas and promoting better digestion. It may also offer some relief to your baby if they're experiencing discomfort after feeding.
  7. Promoting social interaction: Tummy time is beneficial for your baby's physical and cognitive development and creates opportunities for bonding and social interaction. When you engage with your baby during tummy time, you build a stronger connection and help them feel secure and loved.
  8. Better sleep patterns: Establishing a regular tummy time routine can contribute to improved sleep patterns for your baby. The physical activity and stimulation they receive during tummy time can help them sleep more soundly, which is a win-win for both babies and parents.
  9. Gradual transition to crawling: As your baby gets stronger and more confident during tummy time, they may start showing signs of readiness for crawling. Tummy time serves as a natural stepping stone toward this exciting milestone in your baby's development.

How to Incorporate Tummy Time into Your Baby’s Routine

Whether you have a newborn or an older baby, tummy time should be part of your daily routine just like naptime, feeding, and changing diapers. Finding the right routine for you and your baby is key to tummy time success; not all babies love being on their tummies. Here are some tips for making tummy time enjoyable for everyone in the house.

For newborns:

-   Start early: Tummy time can begin a few days after bringing your baby home from the hospital.

-   Go slow: You can start by placing your newborn on their tummy across your lap or on your chest for a few minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times a day. This will help them practice lifting their head and strengthening their neck and shoulder muscles.

-   Use a soft surface: As your baby gets used to the routine, you can place them on a soft, flat surface, such as a playmat or a firm, padded blanket.

-   Engage with your baby: Make tummy time fun! Get down to their level, make eye contact, and talk to them during tummy time to keep them motivated and calm.

-   Maintain supervision: Always supervise your baby during tummy to ensure their safety.

For older babies:

-   Gradually expand the time: Start with 3 to 5 minutes several times a day. It’s also good to do tummy time when your baby is fed, changed, and happy. Experts recommend babies work up to about 1 hour of total tummy time in a day by the time they are three months old.

-   Vary positions: As your baby grows, introduce different tummy time positions like propping them up on their elbows or encouraging them to reach for toys. This can play a huge role in developing even more of their motor skills.

-   Make it fun: Use colorful toys, mirrors, or even a sibling or pet to grab your baby's attention and keep them engaged.

-   Maintain supervision: Always supervise your baby during tummy to ensure their safety.

Key Insights

Tummy time is a simple activity with massive benefits for your baby’s development. From strengthening muscles to enhancing cognitive skills, promoting social interaction to aiding digestion, tummy time plays a vital role in your baby’s overall well-being. By incorporating tummy time into your daily routine and making it an enjoyable experience, you’re setting your child up for a healthy and successful developmental journey.