According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can start practicing tummy time with your newborn as soon as you bring him or her home. In the beginning, your newborn may only tolerate tummy time in short bouts of time. As your infant grows older, practicing tummy time will build both the strength and endurance needed to tolerate the position for longer amounts of time. Here are some tips that can help get you and your infant started:
Spread out a blanket in a clear area of the floor for tummy time.
Try tummy time in short sessions after a diaper change or just after your baby wakes from a nap.
Place a small mirror within your baby’s visual path to encourage them to lift their head and look forward to stay engaged during tummy time.
Place a toy within your baby’s reach during tummy time to help your baby learn to play and interact with his or her surroundings.
Have someone that you trust or you yourself sit in front of your baby during tummy time to encourage interaction and bonding.
Our newest little clinic mascot Dakota is just over two months old here and is a professional tummy time babe!
Tummy time is not limited to time on the floor. You can also practice tummy time on your lap, on your chest, or carried over your arms (in a superman pose). Newborns tend to tolerate tummy time better on your chest or lap in order to work toward longer bouts of tummy time on the floor. As your baby gets older, your tummy time sessions can last longer, and you can have them more often throughout the day.
In addition to building toward important motor milestones in development, tummy time can prevent the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly, or a flattened part of the skull resulting prolonged placement in the same position. The external pressures created by long-term positioning (usually on a baby’s back) can cause a baby’s developing skull to flatten on a side or in the back.
With more tummy time, you may see your baby start to push up from their bent elbows to the palms of their hands. They will gain enough strength to shift their weight onto one shoulder so they can reach for a toy with their free hand. Tummy time can be both a challenging and rewarding exercise for your baby, so find a way to make both fun and routine each day!