Just as it is important for your baby to sleep on her back, it is also important that she spend time on her tummy when awake. Tummy time is important for preventing flat spots from forming on the back of your little one’s head as well as preparing her for future milestones like rolling over and crawling.
Tummy time is simply a period of time that you place your little one on her stomach while she is awake – and supervised. (Never leave your baby alone on her tummy.) This time helps to encourage her to lift her head, which strengthens her head, neck and shoulder muscles while boosting motor skills. Tummy time offers some other benefits, including alleviating gas pain and exposing your little one to a different environment.
Tummy time should be offered on a soft yet firm space, such as a blanket or tummy time mat. You can also offer tummy time on your chest or across your lap.
You can begin tummy time as early as you like, as long as your baby is born at full term with no other health issues. If you are concerned, talk with your pediatrician before you start offering tummy time. Strive for two to three sessions a day for three to five minutes at a time, often after nap time or a diaper change, when your baby’s other needs have been met.
It is normal for your baby to dislike tummy time initially. Sometimes initial attempts are met with resistance but keep pressing forward with it. If your baby dislikes it, only leave her for about a minute and slowly work your way up with sessions.
- Olivia, mom & a pediatric nurse
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