Tummy time is a great way to help your child develop the stronger head, neck and upper back muscles that are needed for crawling, reaching and rolling over. It’s also a fun time to play and engage with your child and can be started right in the hospital! Make sure to do tummy time when the baby is fully awake – usually after diaper changes or waking up from a nap. Tummy time should always be supervised 100% of the time and done on a firm safe surface. Tummy time on the parent or caregiver tummy or chest is also acceptable as long as your infant seems comfortable and well supported. Monitor closely for signs your baby is becoming tired and end tummy time before fatigue sets in. Try to begin with 3-5 minute sessions 2-3 times a day and slowly build to 40-60 minutes daily.
Try to incorporate tummy time into your daily routine during diaper changes, towel drying after a bath or when applying lotion. Lay your infant across your lap during burping for a few extra minutes of tummy time. Get down on the floor with your baby and stimulate them with toys and textures encouraging him to lift his head and to reach for things and to engage in tactile stimulation. Place toys in a circle surrounding the baby to encourage reaching in many directions. Vocalize and sing to your baby and use eye contact to motivate him or her to participate.
Position your baby to enjoy tummy time by rolling up a thin towel to make a bolster for additional support. Place the bolster under the chest and position arms over the roll with arms stretching forward. Make sure chin is up and airway is not compromised – ALWAYS SUPERVISE when using towels or blankets to bolster your baby. Engage your babies’ senses by using a mirror to see a reflection and use different textured blankets and toys for tactile stimulation. Make sure blankets lay flat and do not bunch up under the baby. An alternate position is side-lying – laying your baby on their side with arms out in front of them and knees flexed up – place your hand or a roll behind their back for support. This also allows for a comfortable position for reaching and playing.
Please remember to check with your physician if your baby is premature, has reflux or other underlying medical issues before engaging in tummy time.
Dr. Asha Ramachandran