Although it’s important for babies to sleep on their backs to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it’s imperative that they spend time on their stomachs during their waking hours. Tummy time prevents flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly) and strengthens your little one’s back, neck and arm muscles, which are used to achieve milestones such as rolling over.
Start it early
Baby can enjoy playing on his stomach from day one. There’s no need to wait for his umbilical cord to fall off.
Do it often
Begin with a few minutes a few times a day, and increase frequency and duration as your little one grows. By 3 months of age, baby may be able to play on his stomach for up to an hour between meals and naps.
Make it fun
Get down on baby’s level, and make silly faces to entertain him. Or try placing a mirror nearby for delightful distraction. When he’s had enough (and you’ll know when he has), pick him up, or turn him over.
Switch it up
Tummy time doesn’t have to take place on the floor. Here are a few alternate options:
- Mom or dad’s chest. After a feeding, lay baby on top of you for skin-to-skin contact.
- Mom or dad’s lap. Lay baby face down across your lap to burp him or rub his back.
- Football hold. Carry baby with two hands, positioning one hand under his stomach and the other under his chest.
- Changing table. After a diaper change, turn baby over to his tummy.