It is important that all infants spend time awake on their stomachs (tummy time). Tummy time allows babies to strengthen and stretch muscles that are important for developing basic valuable motor skills such as crawling, standing, sitting and walking. Tummy time also facilitates visual development as your baby learns to move his/her head to look at objects and track movement
Tummy time should always occur while the baby is awake and be supervised by an adult. To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) all healthy infants should sleep on their backs until they are able to roll from their tummies to their backs easily.
Babies who do not spend enough time on their tummy and spend too much time on their back generally:
- Walk later than babies who have spent time on their tummies
- Have tight muscles in their necks
- Have flat spots on the back of their heads
- Have weaker back and stomach muscles which may lead to difficulty sitting, standing straight or balancing in upright positions
Aim for your baby to spend half their waking time throughout the day on their tummy. Start tummy time the day of your baby's birth. The sooner a baby spends time on their tummy, the more comfortable this position will be as they continue to develop. If a baby is not used to spending time on their tummy, they may not enjoy it at first. Try introducing small amounts of tummy time and build up to the half day slowly.
Try the following positions to give your baby some quality tummy time:
Place a thin blanket and toys on a firm surface (such as the floor) and lay your baby on their tummy to play. This is a great position for babies to look at toys and practice lifting their heads.
Place your baby on their tummy on your stomach while you are lying on your back. This way your baby can easily make eye contact with you.
Carry your baby like a football.
Put your baby on their tummy over your lap.