The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies sleep on their backs and spend time on their tummies when awake and supervised. What is so important about tummy time?
Babies are born very tightly curled up, a position they keep during those last few months of gestation. After they are born, babies need to learn to strengthen the muscles that are not yet developed and stretch the muscles that are tight. As they gain strength and flexibility, babies start to move and play with toys.
Why tummy time is important?
- Develops strength in the neck, back, shoulder and hip muscles.
- Develops strength needed for rolling, crawling, and sitting.
- Helps to stretch out the muscles in the front of the body.
- Prevents flat or misshapen heads.
- Develops the visual system and prepares for speech development.
What can I do to help my baby enjoy tummy time?
- Start soon after birth and make it part of the baby’s expected routine.
- Get down on the floor with your baby and talk and sing to her.
- Place a toy mirror in front of her so she can look at herself.
- Allow the baby to lie on a firm but soft area. Activity mats with toys that hang are great tools. Interlocking mat pieces can be used over hard floor surfaces.
- Hold your baby in a “football” position with baby facing towards the floor and tummy resting in your arms.
Remember: Back to sleep, tummy to play!
How has your child benefited from tummy time?
Maggie Dietrich, MPT, PCS is a Physical Therapist at Penfield Children’s Center. She is a Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist.
“Essential Tummy Time Moves.” Pathways.org. Web. 10 March 2014. <http://pathways.org/awareness/parents/tummy-time/tummy-time-help#.UxxwXNzggds>.
“Tummy Time.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Web. 10 March 2014. <http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/aap-press-room-media-center/Pages/Tummy-Time.aspx>.