One of the biggest surprises for many parents is the requirement of tummy time for their infants. In their concerns over breastfeeding, sleep schedules, and developmental milestones, they may forget about the importance of daily time spent on the belly. This practice can actually help your baby develop properly.
What Are the Benefits of Tummy Time?
One of the most important benefits of tummy time is the overall physical strengthening effects for your baby. Your infant will learn how to lift his head and will develop strong muscles in his neck and upper back. In addition, this can lead to an improvement in gross motor skills, which can lead to an earlier development in the areas of rolling over, sitting, and crawling. In addition, getting your baby off his back for at least some of the day can prevent the flat head syndrome.
How Much Tummy Time Should Your Baby Have?
At first, your baby will probably not want to put up with much time on his tummy. In fact, you may find that he can only make it for five minutes or less before he begins crying. You may also find that you need to interact directly with your child for much of the time to keep him content. However, as your child becomes used to this time, you can increase tummy time length each day.
How Can You Get Started with Tummy Time?
It is best to start tummy time as early as possible because your baby will be quite resistant to it the older he is when starting the routine. Tummy time should happen once or twice per day at a minimum. However, as your baby gets used to this time, you may be able to encourage it after diaper changes or upon awakening from a nap.
Consider buying your child a special tummy time mat and pillow, which is perfectly sized for his tiny chest. This will also help him lift his neck and head off the floor to look around and better enjoy himself. You may also be able to use a breastfeeding pillow if you have one. As your child gets older, place age-appropriate toys near him to encourage motor skills and enjoyment.