Have you got questions about tummy time for your baby?
Not sure when or how much tummy time is recommended?
Not sure if bubs is ready for tummy time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, or want to know more about positioning for kids, this blog is for you!
In general, babies are allowed to start tummy time as early as the day they come home from the hospital. However, tummy time should be practiced in small amounts at first. Ideally, we want to start with 30sec to 2 minutes of supervised tummy time, repeated multiple times every day.
Just like any other new positions or activities, we don’t expect perfect head control during the initial attempts. With practice, your bub will start to gain better head control, trunk muscle control, and will be able to tolerate tummy time better as time goes by. We want to increase your baby’s endurance, building up to approximately 1 hour of tummy time a few times per day by the time your baby is 3-4 months of age.
At 4-5 months, you would want to see your bub starting to roll onto their tummies by themselves, or at least attempting to initiate the movement. It is important to remember that tummy time needs to be a supervised activity and will work better if you are present to play with your bub.
If you have concerns for your bub in regards to rolling or tummy time, please book an appointment with the paediatric physiotherapist at Miami Physiotherapy or Lakelands Physiotherapy for a thorough check.
Why is tummy time important for babies?
Tummy time helps improve the baby’s anti-gravity muscle development, improve sense of mobility, and increase their sense of exploration and body awareness. When your child is on their tummy, initially they won’t have the strength to hold their head and upper body up – as the neck and trunk extensor muscles would not have developed yet. These are the muscles that will be strengthened as your bub plays more in this position.
As the muscles gradually increase in strength and control, eventually this will allow them to play in an upright position and to move against gravity. Playing on their tummy is also the first step to learning to crawl and moving around. This position allows your bub the opportunity to actually practice pushing up with their hands, lifting up and moving their limbs, which will help them to experience what movement feels like. Aside from increasing muscle control and increasing movement, tummy time also works wonders to increase your bub’s awareness of the environment, of their own limbs and also their body position.
Tips for Tummy Time
Initially tummy time is difficult for babies as they do not have the required head and trunk control for this position to be functional. To help them feel more comfortable, you can help by putting one hand on their hip, and using your fingers to help cushion their chin during the initial attempts. Gauge your baby’s reactions carefully, as we want to make the first few experiences pleasant and encourage further tummy time play. Put their favourite toys in front of them, to increase the fun of looking up.
If they seem uncomfortable to start on the floor, ease them into it by placing them on your thighs to begin. This provides reassurance with the warmth and proximity of your body, and you may find your baby enjoys this happy experience while still getting the benefit of being on their tummy. These strategies will help start your bub’s tummy time experience without it being too strenuous on them. Again, tummy time has to be a fully supervised activity.
If your bub doesn’t like tummy time even with these strategies or if you are concerned about your bub’s movement milestones, call us at Miami Physiotherapy or Lakelands Physiotherapy for an assessment and helpful strategies to try at home.