What is tummy time?
Tummy time is the time spent on tummy while your baby is alert, awake and supervised, and is an important activity for your baby’s development. It allows for strengthening muscles of the back, upper body, neck, and core. It is a crucial developmental position that will prepare your baby for meeting future developmental milestones. This playtime activity promotes motor and sensory development.
Tummy time helps build strength in the head and neck, core, upper body and back. Theses muscles allow for head control to be able to engage in surroundings as well as promotes postural stability for sitting. Strength built from this activity will also aide in pre-crawling and crawling skills and build the muscles needed for future motor milestones.
Tummy time promotes sensory processing and development of the visual and vestibular system as well as proprioceptive and tactile development. The visual system is supported by building head and neck strength to promote head control. This will allow for a clear view of the world and ability of the eyes to locate and track an object. The vestibular system helps the baby with their sense of position and movements. development of the vestibular system will be important for balance and coordinating where the body is in space. Proprioceptive input is received in tummy time as well that is input through the joints and is needed for body awareness. Your baby will also experience tactile sensations on their tummy through exploration of different textures of blankets, mats, and other surfaces.
Strategies for introducing tummy time
Tummy time can be a challenging position for your baby. Here are some ways you can help make it more doable for your baby. Tummy time on your chest still counts! You can cuddle with your baby while still getting the benefits. Practicing on an incline will make it easier for your baby. Place your baby at incline on a pillow or over a boppy pillow. Try a superman carry to help make tummy time more enjoyable and still work on neck and back strength. Last but not least, try for short periods of 3-5 minutes at a time.
When can I start?
As soon as you get home from the hospital! The earlier you start tummy time with your baby, the more enjoyable it will be for them.
– Article Written By: Erin McDermott PT, DPT