5 Benefits of Tummy Time for Infants
Tummy time is an incredible tool for promoting a child’s physical and cognitive development. Many parents choose to lay their child on their chest or lap during this time. It can be both a beautiful bonding experience and a way to enhance a baby’s health.
Since the best sleep position for babies is on their backs, they rarely get to spend time on their stomachs. Setting aside a few minutes to flip your infant over helps them build muscles and move around in new ways.
Time spent laying on their bellies is helpful for meeting developmental milestones for infants. Learn more about the importance of tummy time and the major benefits for your baby.
The Importance of Tummy Time in a Child’s Development
Tummy time is highly beneficial for infant development. Taking a few minutes every day to get your baby off their back is essential for their physical and cognitive health.
The muscles that babies exercise during tummy time help build strength in the following areas of the body:
This time also promotes trunk stability and improves head control for infants, leading to further physical development. A baby can start rolling over and sitting up on its own after months of daily tummy time.
Spending a few minutes on their bellies can encourage infants to practice movements like reaching and pivoting. These are important precursors to crawling and being more mobile.
Since a lack of tummy time can actually delay a child’s development, it is essential to practice physical skills daily.
When Should You Start Daily Tummy Time for Infants
Most physicians suggest starting tummy time when your infant is about two weeks old. In the beginning, you can lay your baby down for 30 seconds to one minute. It is necessary to note that this practice requires careful supervision to ensure your child is safe and remains in a good position. You can repeat tummy time two to three times a day.
You can place the child on your chest or lap instead of a clean mat for their first sessions. It is normal for the baby to fuss a bit or even lay their head down when you get them in position.
When your baby turns 2 months old, you can lengthen your daily tummy time to three to five minutes. After a few months, your child will likely be able to lift their chest off the floor while leaning on their elbows. They may even be able to hold their head upright on their own at this point.
By 6 months old, babies can often do the following:
- Lift their arms off the floor
- Arch their back
- Kick their feet
The ultimate goal of tummy time is to reach 15 to 20 minutes every day. Once your child can roll over independently, you can stop setting aside time for this practice.
5 Benefits of Tummy Time for Babies
There are several benefits of tummy time for infants as they grow and develop. Here are the top five reasons to ensure your baby gets enough tummy time:
1. Helps Develop Motor Skills
Tummy time can assist with the development of motor skills in children. Regularly placing your baby on their stomach promotes the practice of important movements that eventually lead to crawling and walking.
The following are essential motor skills that tummy time can help babies develop:
- Pushing up
- Rolling over
- Sitting up
- Pulling to a stand
2. Reduces the Chances of Skull Deformity
Tummy time is especially beneficial for an infant’s head. Because babies do not have the neck strength to lift their heads during the first few months of life, their skulls can begin flattening in the back. When this causes deformity of the head, it is called positional plagiocephaly.
Time on their stomach can help decrease the chances of skull deformity in infants.
3. Promotes Sensory Development
Switching up your baby’s positioning is a great way to promote different movements. Changing their perspective by placing them on their stomach can help develop their vestibular system. Being on their belly is a new sensation and requires balance. They see and feel the world in a new way while also learning how their body moves.
4. Increases Cognitive Development
Tummy time can help increase cognitive development in children. It stimulates awareness of the environment around them, and they see the world from a new perspective. This makes their brain process differently and create new connections.
As children get older, they slowly learn how to reason and explore. Tummy time can enhance this growth.
5. Improves Head Control and Strengthens Neck Muscles
Babies must practice lifting their heads off the ground to develop strength in their neck muscles. As they practice using their neck and shoulders, they slowly improve their head control and make it possible to hold their heads up independently. Tummy time is one of the best ways to improve neck control for infants.
Making the Most of Tummy Time for Infants
There are some simple and easy-to-implement recommendations to reap as many benefits of tummy time as possible. Consider doing the following:
- Wait for your baby to be alert: It is best to flip your baby over for tummy time when they are wide awake and alert. A happy baby will be much more cooperative than one who is tired or hungry.
- Begin with short sessions: Some infants enjoy time spent on their stomachs more than others. Starting tummy time sessions at a few seconds can help them get used to being belly down, especially if you have a fussy child.
- Use toys as motivators: Adding toys just out of reach from your child can be a good way to encourage reaching and movement. Pick toys that are visually appealing and have fun effects like lights to hold your baby’s attention.
- Get the family involved: Encourage your other children to get down with their baby brother or sister during tummy time. Having people around can be fun and stimulating for an infant. Lots of talking and acknowledgment can go a long way for a developing child.
- Try the side: If your baby refuses to lay on their stomach without getting upset, you can ease into tummy time by placing the child on their side. They can still practice those valuable movements that promote healthy development in this position. Just be sure to use a towel or blanket for added support at their back and neck.
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