Placing infants on their stomach, while they are awake and supervised, or practicing “tummy time” is recommended by healthcare professionals, to ensure normal development. Tummy time helps the baby gain strength and build muscles that they will use and help all future development of the body. Studies show that infants that spend more time on their tummy achieve motor milestones earlier than others.
When should tummy time practices start?
Tummy time is recommended from day one. If the baby gets used to being on the stomach it is likely he will start enjoying it. You should not be worried if the baby is fussy in the beginning. If the baby gets the chance practice a little everyday he will soon become stronger and better at it.
Why is tummy time important?
Doctors started recommending that babies should sleep on their back, in the mid 1990s. That was done to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome). Recommending infants sleeping on the back has dramatically decreased SIDS. However, do to these recommendations and the change in sleep positioning, infants awake positioning practices were also affected. As infants usually sleep on their back, they have started to prefer the supine position when they are awake, as lying on the stomach is both unfamiliar and difficult. Supervised playtime on the tummy does not increase the risk of SIDS and is recommended by doctors. Babies need time on their stomach to develop strong neck muscles. Developing stronger neck and back muscles will help with future milestones like sitting, crawling and walking.
Is it normal for the baby to cry during tummy time?
Most babies dislike being placed on the belly for the first couple of times. When the baby doesn’t like being on the tummy it is normal for the parent to quickly change the baby’s position. Parents usually don’t like to hear their children cry and do the best to make them happy. As parents, we are told that crying is the child’s way of communicating with us before learning other ways of communication. Parents should not force their children, but encourage theme and help theme to gradually increase the time they lie on the tummy. The caregiver can do this by keeping the child company, providing entertainment and a comfortable and secure environment. Read more about how to make tummy time more enjoyable here.