Tummy time for your healthy term baby is important and can commence from just a few days after birth.
Tummy time has been found to increase neck, shoulder, arm and back muscle strength.
Tummy time also helps prevent the baby developing a flat spot on the head. The muscles used during tummy time are essential for supporting your baby as they begin to move around and aid in assisting your baby to be able to sit up.
Starting Tummy Time for Infants
Tummy time can start at home, initially for a few minutes each day. By the time your baby is two to three months old they should last as long as ten to fifteen minutes lying on their tummy.
Tummy Time should be fun time.
In order to get your infant to enjoy tummy time, try lying with your baby on the floor, face to face and encourage the infant to raise their head and look up at you. Also of benefit in getting the infant to lift their head can be placement of an open book approximately 30cm from their head, you may receive a useful book with images from your maternal and child health nurse or local library program. Infants also love looking in a mirror and many toy companies offer baby friendly non glass mirrors for this purpose that you can place in front of your baby.
Tummy Time does not have to be on the floor.
If your baby does not enjoy being on their tummy on the floor, try one of these positions;
Let your baby lie on your chest
Allow your baby to lay across your lap, looking at something interesting.
Lay your baby, face down, across your arm, to encourage them to use their neck and shoulder muscles.
Encourage your baby to look up by talking to them, singing to them, having a toy or playing with them.
Some babies will enjoy the placement of a rolled towel or cloth nappy under their armpits or chest to provide more support or the placement of their elbows and forearms close in under their chest.
Don’t leave your infant unattended during tummy time. Babies can tire easily when laying on their tummy.
Remember that babies should be placed on their backs to sleep and that tummy time is meant to be an enjoyable experience for you and your baby.
If your baby is distressed, tummy time can be recommenced or tried again later in the day when the baby is more settled.