If you have read my blog post on how we came VERY close to putting Emmy in a baby helmet, you know tummy time is something we have had to master in our household. I have to admit though, the reason we got ourselves into a flat head situation was in part because I didn’t know how important (or how much) tummy time was needed each day.
Tummy time is important for a few reasons. As you know, baby’s head is still very soft immediately following birth and does not start to get significantly harder until around 6 months. This is the time frame when tummy time is the most important! While baby’s head is soft, it is malleable and can become flat if he or she does not spend time on their tummy. Tummy time also help strengthen babies shoulder, neck and back muscles. All of these muscles are essential to crawling, sitting and rolling over.
So how much tummy time should you be doing each day? The answer largely depends on the age of your baby and how comfortable they are with the tummy position.
When your baby is a newborn, tummy time can be as simple at them laying on their stomachs while on your chest. The closeness of your faces will give them something to interesting to lift their head and look at. You can also simply lay them across your legs. Start with just a few minutes at a time and increase from there. Once baby is a little older (3-4 months) and comfortable with the stomach position, try moving them to the floor so that they can begin playing more actively during tummy time. By this age, research suggests a minimum of 30-90 minutes of tummy time a day. However, the doctor who we saw in regards to Emmy’s flat spot on her head told us that there was no such thing as too much tummy time. Remember that tummy time can be broken up into small sessions throughout the day.
For some babies, tummy time may not might not be the most enjoyable part of the day. The good news is, as those muscles get stronger, the fussing should start to fade away. In the mean time, keep it interesting for baby. Try doing tummy time outside on a blanket where they are lots of new things to look at. A water mat is also a small, inexpensive toy made just for tummy time that was a huge hit in our house. I quickly found that tummy time after bath time is always the easiest for us. Emmy seems to have this burst of energy when she gets out and welcomes tummy time. Mornings are a COMPLETELY different story. Try to find a time that your baby is the happiest to switch over to tummy time.
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