The importance of tummy time
Placing infants on their stomach, while they are awake and supervised, or practicing “tummy time” is recommended by healthcare professionals. Tummy time helps the baby gain strength and build muscles, helping the future development of the body. Studies also show that infants that spend more time on their tummy achieve motor milestones earlier than others.
When should you start practicing tummy time?
Tummy time is recommended from day one. The sooner the baby spends time on the tummy, the sooner they will enjoy it. Don't worry if the baby is fussy in the beginning. If you practice a little everyday they will become stronger and better at it in no time.
Why is it important?
Doctors started recommending babies to sleep on their back, in the mid 1990s. This was done to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome), and we can see that from this recommendation cases have decreased. However, due to these recommendations the preferred awake positioning for infants was 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. Plus, 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 at first. 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 them and help them 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.