Tummy time is such a great way for your baby to develop fine motor skills. They will see their world from a completely different perspective! Many families practice this activity with their children. Does it really help? We will learn what skills it helps develop. Additionally, we will explore how its beneficial for your child, when to start tummy time and when to stop and so much more.

In This Article…

In this article you will learn

-What is tummy time

-When you should start this activity with your baby.

-When you should stop tummy time with your baby.

-The best places for this activity.

-What happens if you don’t do tummy time with your baby.

What is tummy time

Tummy time refers to the practice of placing an infant on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This is an important activity for babies to help develop their muscles and motor skills. This activity is typically recommended for infants starting from the first few days of life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents start tummy time early in a baby’s life. This is to promote the development of strong neck and shoulder muscles. This helps babies learn to lift their heads, which is a precursor to crawling. This activity also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of the baby’s head, a condition known as plagiocephaly.

It’s important to note that this activity should always be supervised. Additionally, infants should be placed on a firm, flat surface. Parents can start with short periods of this activity, gradually increasing the duration as the baby becomes more comfortable. As the baby grows and becomes more mobile, other activities, such as crawling, rolling, and eventually sitting, contribute to their overall physical development.

When should parents start tummy time with their babies

This activity can begin shortly after birth. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting this activity from the first few days of a baby’s life. Initially, this can involve placing the baby on their stomach for just a few minutes a few times a day while they are awake and supervised.

Starting early helps babies develop strength in their neck and shoulder muscles. It encourages them to lift their heads. As the baby grows, parents can gradually increase the duration of tummy time sessions. The goal is to make this activity a regular part of the baby’s daily routine. This is to support their overall physical development.

It’s important for parents to create a safe and comfortable environment for this activity. This is to ensure that the baby is placed on a firm, flat surface and that they are closely monitored during the activity. Always follow your healthcare provider’s advice regarding your baby’s development and any specific recommendations they may have based on your baby’s individual needs.

What if you do not do tummy time with your baby

While this activity is recommended for infants to support their physical development, it’s important to note that not every baby will have the same experience or reaction to the activity. There can be various reasons for that. Some babies may initially resist or be fussy during this activity, and that’s okay. However, it’s generally recommended to encourage and incorporate this into your baby’s routine.

If this activity is consistently avoided or neglected, it could potentially impact the baby’s physical development. This activity helps strengthen neck and upper body muscles. It promotes motor skills, and contributes to the development of important milestones such as rolling over, crawling, and eventually sitting up.

If you have concerns about this activity or if your baby seems uncomfortable during these sessions, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. They can provide guidance, address any specific concerns. Pediatricians can offer suggestions to make tummy time a positive experience for your baby. There may be alternative ways to promote similar muscle development if your baby has difficulty with traditional time of your child on their stomach. However, it’s crucial to discuss this with a healthcare professional who can assess your baby’s individual needs.

How much tummy time should a baby have by age

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides general guidelines on the amount of tummy time babies should have based on their age. It’s important to remember that these are general recommendations Individual babies may vary in their tolerance and preferences for tummy time. Here is a rough guideline:

  1. Newborns (0-3 months): Aim for at least a few minutes of this activity two to three times a day. This can be done on a firm, flat surface. Additionally, you can gradually increase the duration as your baby becomes more accustomed to it.
  2. 3-6 months: As your baby grows, try to work up to about 20-30 minutes of this activity spread throughout the day. This can be broken into shorter sessions.
  3. 6-9 months: By this age, your baby may be more active and mobile. putting your child on their stomach can continue, but it may also naturally transition into other activities like crawling and sitting.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and it’s essential to pay attention to your baby’s cues. If your baby is uncomfortable or fussy during tummy time, you can try to make it more enjoyable by engaging with them, using colorful toys, or placing a mirror in front of them. Always ensure that this activity is done on a safe and supervised surface.

If you have concerns about your baby’s development or if they seem to dislike this activity consistently, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician for personalized advice and recommendations.

When does tummy time stop

This activity does not have a specific endpoint, and it naturally evolves as your baby grows and develops. This activity is crucial in the early months to help babies build neck and upper body strength, but as they become more mobile and achieve developmental milestones like rolling over, crawling, and sitting up, the need for dedicated this activity sessions may decrease.

As babies become more adept at moving and exploring their environment, they naturally engage in various activities that contribute to their physical development. Crawling, pulling up, and eventually walking are examples of activities that continue to strengthen different muscle groups.

While the term “tummy time” may not be used as frequently as your baby becomes more mobile, it’s important to continue providing opportunities for them to develop and strengthen their muscles. Encouraging floor play, providing a variety of toys and activities, and allowing your baby to explore different positions will support their ongoing physical development.

Always follow your pediatrician’s advice regarding your baby’s development and milestones, and feel free to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about your baby’s progress during regular check-ups.

Where are the best places for tummy time

When it comes to tummy time, it’s important to choose safe and comfortable places where your baby can explore and strengthen their muscles. Here are some suggestions for the best places for tummy time:

  1. On the Floor:
    • Play Mat: Use a soft play mat on the floor to create a comfortable and clean surface for tummy time.
    • Carpet or Rug: If you have a carpeted room or a rug, that can also be a suitable surface.
  2. Tummy Time Mats:
    • Some parents use specific tummy time mats with colorful patterns and textures to engage the baby’s interest.
  3. Boppy Pillow:
    • A Boppy pillow or similar support pillow can provide a slightly elevated surface for tummy time.
  4. Parent’s Chest:
    • Placing your baby on your chest while lying down is a bonding experience that also allows for tummy time.
  5. Tummy Time Mirrors:
    • Positioning a baby-safe mirror in front of your baby can capture their attention and make tummy time more enjoyable.
  6. Supervised Playpen or Pack ‘n Play:
    • If you have a safe playpen or Pack ‘n Play, you can place your baby on their tummy for short periods while being supervised.
  7. Changing Table:
    • While changing diapers, you can incorporate short periods of tummy time on the changing table.
  8. Outdoor Blanket:
    • On a nice day, you can take tummy time outside on a blanket in a shaded area.

Always ensure that the surface is clean, flat, and free of any potential hazards. Stay close to your baby during tummy time to provide supervision and engagement. The goal is to make tummy time a positive and enjoyable experience that contributes to your baby’s physical development.

When should you not do tummy time

While tummy time is generally beneficial for infants and an important part of their development, there are certain situations when you should avoid or postpone tummy time. Here are some instances when you might want to skip tummy time temporarily:

  1. Right After Feeding: It’s recommended to wait for a little while after feeding before placing your baby on their tummy. This helps reduce the likelihood of spit-up.
  2. When Your Baby is Sleepy or Fussy: If your baby is overly tired or fussy, they may not be in the mood for tummy time. It’s best to choose a time when your baby is awake, alert, and content.
  3. After Vaccinations: Some babies may be a bit sore or irritable after receiving vaccinations. In such cases, it’s a good idea to give them some time to recover before engaging in tummy time.
  4. When Your Baby is Unwell: If your baby is sick or not feeling well, it’s advisable to postpone tummy time until they are back to their normal health.
  5. On a Full Stomach: Placing a baby on their tummy immediately after a meal may lead to discomfort or spit-up. It’s generally recommended to wait a little while after feeding before starting tummy time.
  6. If There’s a Safety Concern: Always ensure that the tummy time area is safe. Remove any objects that could pose a choking hazard, and make sure the surface is clean and free of potential dangers.
  7. If Your Baby Has a Medical Condition: If your baby has a medical condition or special health considerations, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before starting tummy time or to follow any specific guidelines they provide.

Always listen to your baby’s cues and be responsive to their needs. If your baby consistently dislikes this activity or if you have concerns, it’s advisable to discuss it with your pediatrician for personalized guidance and recommendations.

Benefits

This activity offers a variety of benefits for a baby’s physical and developmental well-being. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Strengthening Neck and Shoulder Muscles:
    • Tummy time helps babies develop the muscles in their neck and shoulders, promoting head control and the ability to lift their heads.
  2. Development of Motor Skills:
    • Tummy time is a precursor to crawling, rolling over, and eventually sitting up. It contributes to the development of gross motor skills.
  3. Prevention of Flat Head Syndrome:
    • Regular tummy time can help reduce the risk of flat spots on the back of the baby’s head, a condition known as plagiocephaly.
  4. Visual Development:
    • Being on their tummy allows babies to see the world from a different perspective, helping with visual development and exploration.
  5. Sensory Stimulation:
    • Tummy time provides tactile stimulation, allowing babies to feel different textures against their skin, such as the floor or a play mat.
  6. Improved Core Strength:
    • As babies push up on their arms during tummy time, they engage their core muscles, contributing to overall strength and stability.
  7. Preparation for Rolling Over and Crawling:
    • Tummy time helps babies practice the movements involved in rolling over and crawling, laying the groundwork for these milestones.
  8. Enhanced Proprioception:
    • Being on their tummy allows babies to develop a sense of their body’s position in space, improving proprioception.
  9. Facilitation of Hands-on Play:
    • Tummy time encourages reaching and grasping, promoting the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  10. Bonding and Interaction:
    • Tummy time is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to interact with their baby, fostering emotional and social development.

It’s important to start tummy time early, gradually increasing the duration as the baby becomes more comfortable. Always ensure that it is done in a safe and supervised environment, and be responsive to your baby’s cues and needs during these sessions.

Aids to Use

While tummy time can be done with minimal equipment, some aids can make the experience more comfortable and engaging for both the baby and the caregiver. Here are some aids that you might find helpful for putting your child on their stomach:

  1. Tummy Time Mats: These are designed with colorful patterns and textures to capture the baby’s interest. Some mats even have built-in toys or features to encourage reaching and exploration.
  2. Boppy Pillow or Tummy Time Pillow: These support pillows provide a slightly elevated surface. They can be placed under the baby’s chest to lift them a bit and make the activity more comfortable.
  3. Soft Blankets or Play Mats: Placing a soft blanket or play mat on the floor provides a clean and comfortable surface for this activity. Ensure that the surface is free of small objects or potential hazards.
  4. Tummy Time Mirrors: Baby-safe mirrors can be positioned in front of the baby to capture their attention and make this learning experience more visually stimulating.
  5. Toys and Soft Objects: Place colorful and textured toys within reach of the baby to encourage reaching and grasping during play. Soft, crinkly toys or toys with various textures can be particularly engaging.
  6. Parental Interaction: Sometimes the best aid for a child on their stomach is the presence and interaction of a parent or caregiver. Getting down on the floor with the baby, talking to them, making eye contact, and providing gentle encouragement can enhance the experience.
  7. Small Tummy Time Gyms: These are structures with hanging toys or features that can be placed over the baby during this activity, encouraging them to reach and engage with the objects.

Remember, the goal is to create a safe and enjoyable environment for this fun activity. It’s important to supervise your baby during these sessions. Be sure to adjust the aids based on your baby’s preferences and developmental stage. Always be responsive to your baby’s cues and make this activity a positive and interactive experience.

How do you know your baby does not want to do tummy time

Babies may not be able to communicate verbally, but they do express their preferences and discomfort through various cues. Here are some signs that your baby may not be enjoying or is uncomfortable:

  1. Crying or Fussiness:
    • If your baby becomes consistently fussy or starts crying during tummy time, it may indicate discomfort or displeasure.
  2. Turning Head to the Side:
    • If your baby consistently turns their head to the side or refuses to lift their head, they may be indicating discomfort or a lack of interest.
  3. Arching Back:
    • Some babies may arch their back during tummy time, which could be a sign of discomfort or resistance.
  4. Lack of Interest:
    • If your baby shows little interest in reaching for toys or engaging with their surroundings during tummy time, they may not find it enjoyable.
  5. Restlessness:
    • Restlessness, squirming, or attempts to roll over immediately may suggest that your baby is not comfortable on their stomach.
  6. Short Attention Span:
    • Babies may have short attention spans, but if your baby consistently seems disinterested or distracted during tummy time, they may not be enjoying the experience.
  7. Excessive Drooling or Spit-Up:
    • If your baby drools excessively or frequently spits up during tummy time, it could be a sign of discomfort.

It’s essential to pay attention to your baby’s cues and be responsive to their needs. If you notice signs of discomfort or resistance during this activity, consider the following:

  • Gradual Introduction: Start with short sessions and gradually increase the duration as your baby becomes more accustomed to the activity.
  • Use Props and Toys: Introduce colorful and engaging toys or use a mat to make the experience more interesting.
  • Parental Involvement: Get down on the floor with your baby. Make sure to talk to them. Provide gentle encouragement to make these moments a positive and interactive experience.

If your baby consistently shows signs of distress during this activity or if you have concerns, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician for guidance and personalized recommendations.

Can You Tummy Time After Feeding

It’s generally recommended to wait for a little while after feeding before placing your baby on their tummy. This is because putting a baby on their stomach immediately after feeding may increase the likelihood of spit-up. Newborns, in particular, may be more prone to spitting up if they are placed on their tummy right after eating.

Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Wait a Short Time: Aim to wait at least 10-15 minutes after a feeding before attempting to put your child on their stomach This allows the baby some time to digest and reduces the chances of discomfort or spitting up.
  2. Burp Your Baby: If your baby tends to be gassy, it can be helpful to burp them before you put baby on their stomach to release any trapped air.
  3. Observation: Keep an eye on your baby during tummy play. If they seem uncomfortable or show signs of spit-up, you may want to wait a bit longer after feedings in the future.

Always be attentive to your baby’s cues. If your baby consistently seems uncomfortable or fussy during this activity, or if you have concerns about spit-up, you can discuss it with your pediatrician. They can provide guidance based on your baby’s specific needs and health.