“Tummy time” means placing babies on their stomachs – while they’re awake and supervised. Tummy time helps babies develop strong head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Because of this, it better protects them from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SUID). With stronger muscles, they are more able to sleep safely; they can turn their heads if they have any trouble breathing.
Provide tummy time for 1-2 minutes after every nap, diaper change, feeding, and other times, too.
Tummy time tips:
- Start right away. Even right after your baby is born, you can place her on your stomach or chest while you lie on a chair, bed, or the floor. This is great for socializing with your baby and encouraging eye contact.
- Start slowly. Your baby may only like 15 seconds of tummy time on the first try. That’s OK. Add 15 to 30 seconds each tummy time session. Eventually, the goal is 30 minutes or more per day. But it doesn’t have to happen all at once.
- Have lap time. Place your baby across your lap the long way, while giving him head support.
- Have face-to-face time. Lie down on the floor facing your baby during tummy time. Stay on her eye level, talk to him, or read to him. Make sure your voice and expressions are expressive!
- Have bolster time. Make tummy time easier for your baby by making a small bolster: Roll up a thin towel or blanket. Place it under your baby’s chest. Position her arms over the roll, with her hands reaching out in front of the roll. If her chin drops, place her chin slightly in front of the roll; her mouth and nose should get plenty of air.
- Distract your baby if she dislikes being on her stomach.
- Have a tummy time schedule. This makes it easier to remember tummy time. Also, your baby will come to expect the routine.
- Remember: never leave your baby unattended during tummy time.