According to guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1994, we know that supine is the safest sleeping position for infants, but this means that infants are facing the ceiling for up to 15 hours a day. As a result, today’s infants have fewer opportunities to practice using their arms, back, neck and head to raise themselves. Read on to learn more about the benefits of exercising on the floor and tips for starting this important exercise.
How important is tummy time?
Having your baby on her tummy for a few minutes while she’s awake can help her work all the muscles in her upper body and promote trunk stability and head control. Joanne Cox, M.D., a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, says, “Tummy time helps babies build strength in their backs, legs, arms and necks.” . “It helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting down.”
Tummy time also encourages your little one to practice stretching and spinning, skills that are often precursors to crawling. Studies show that a lack of time on the tummy delays your baby from reaching physical developmental milestones, such as lifting his head, rolling over, sitting up, etc.
Spending regular time on his stomach can also help your baby avoid forming a flat spot on the back of his head, which has become more common after the “back to sleep” movement mentioned above by the AAP to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome. In severe cases, flattening of the head or flat head deformity can distort facial features. Tummy time is also helpful for infants with tilt neck, which causes the head to tilt unnaturally because the neck muscles are stiff and tight.
Finally, time spent on the floor is associated with improved cardiovascular health and body mass index (BMI), according to research published in Pediatrics in May 2020.
When to start tucking
Beginning at 2 weeks of age, perform short sessions of 30 seconds to 1 minute. Try placing your newborn’s tummy on your chest or across your thighs so he gets used to the position. To make it a part of your daily routine, place your baby on his tummy after daily diaper changes. Just don’t do this right after a feeding, as compressing his stomach may make him throw up.
Don’t be surprised if your baby fusses or just ducks his head; just try again later. Dr. Ali Brown, a pediatrician and author of Baby 411, says, “Many babies don’t like being on their tummies at first, but as they get stronger, their tummies get more comfortable.” . She says: “Lifting the head takes some work and isn’t always fun.” . “It’s a workout.”
By two months of age, the goal is three five-minute sessions a day on a flat mat that looks like a play mat on the floor. If she seems uncomfortable, try rolling up a blanket and putting it under her armpits for support.
By 3 or 4 months, your baby should be able to lift his chest off the floor and lean on his elbows with his head upright. He may even be able to lift his arms off the floor, arch his back and kick his feet. after 4 months, your baby may be strong enough to roll over while lying on his backーーthis will surprise and excite him endlessly.
As your baby grows, try to have at least 15-30 minutes of tummy time each day, while encouraging him to play a little longer. Once your child has rolled over to spend time on his tummy independently, usually at 6 months of age, you can stop the dedicated tummy time.
Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parakian also contributed to this article.