An Easy Guide to Tummy Time for New Parents!

Research shows that a simple activity like tummy time can help with your baby’s motor skills, strength, sensory development, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss why tummy time is important, and provide you with tips and ideas to make the experience fun and rewarding for both you and your baby.

So if you are a new parent and you have been stressing about this, please don’t! 

I got you covered and it’s easier than you think.

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An Easy Guide to Tummy Time for New Parents

Table of Contents

What Is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is when your lay your baby on their tummy awake to allow them time to strenghten their neck, shoulder and back muscles as they attempt to left their little head. 

Why Start Tummy Time with Your Baby?

Parents are encouraged to do tummy time with their infants to prevent Torticollis (head tilt towards one side) and flat head syndrome, which result from having newborns sleep on their backs too often.

It all started in 1994 with the “Back to Sleep” campaign by the American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce sudden infant death syndrome. However, because babies now sleep on their backs instead of their tummies, pediatricians started to see an increase in the number of Torticollis and flat heads in infants. 

As a solution, the AAP recommended parents to include tummy time in their daily routine. This practice allows babies to freely move their head, strengthening their neck, shoulder, and back muscles. This, in turn, prepares them for important milestones like sitting up and crawling.

When Should You Start?

You can start tummy time right after birth at the newborn stage. However, I waited at least until my baby’s umbilical cord fell off at around 2 or 3 weeks after birth. I know you may be wondering if at 2 week old tummy time is too early to start but according to the National Institute of Child Health it’s not. 

How Do You Start By Months Of Age?

Tummy time with newborn

Newborn- 1 months 

You start tummy time with a newborn by simply placing them tummy down on your chest for 3-5 minutes. 
 
Other positions for tummy time with a newborn can be:
  • Laying them tummy down across your lap.
  • Laying them on a flat firm mattressed (always supervised)
  • Laying them on a play mat.
Tummy time with 2 month old

2 Months Old

Tummy time with a two months old can be similar to a newborns but by 2 months old they should be doing 15-30 minutes daily. But if they are not, it’s ok just increase the duration slowly until they are comfortable doing 15-30 minutes at a time. 
 
Tummy time activities with a 2-month-old include:
  • Spread out a blanket on a clear area of the floor.
  • Place a rolled-up towel under baby’s arms or boppy pillow to help prop them up slightly.
  • Try short sessions after a diaper change or nap.
If your 2 months old hates tummy time it is most likely because lefting their head is still hard for them so just try laying them on your chest for 1 or 2 mins and increase as they getting comfortable. if that doesn’t work you can baby wear as a way of doing tummy time.
Tummy time with 3 month old

3 Months Old

By Three-months old, experts recommend 1 hour of tummy time daily. It does not have to be all at once, you can break up bits of 15 mins or 30 mins if that makes your baby more comfortable. 

Tummy time activities with a 3-month-old include:

  • Lay your baby on a play mat or play gym.
  • Put a toy within baby’s reach to help baby interact with their surroundings and learn to play.
  • Have someone you trust sit in front of baby to encourage interaction and bonding.
  • You can sing to your baby.

Development Goal:

  • Begins to put weight on arms, but elbows are behind their shoulders (at a 45 degree angle)
  • Gains head control and is able to lift head between 45 to 90 degrees, without tilting head to either side
  • Starts to visually track toys or rattles you move around during Tummy Time

Remember you don’t want to force your baby to do or like tummy time, my daughter didn’t like it in the beginning at its probably because it was hard for her to left her head early on but at her neck, shoulder and back muscles got stronger with or without my help, she started to enjoy tummy time. 

Tummy time with 4 months old

4 Months Old

Your baby should aim to complete 90 minutes of tummy time each day at four months old. This can be divided into 4 to 5 sessions, each lasting 15 to 20 minutes.

During tummy time, your baby should be encouraged to engage in activities that promote movement and development. 

Tummy time activities with a 4-month-old include:

  • Adding a mirror to their playmat
  • Using a sensory water mat for them to play with
  • Talking and making your baby laugh
  • Showing them pictures in a book

Development goal:

  • Lifting their head 90 degrees
  • Keeping their head centered
  • Pushing up on their forearms and bringing their chest off the floor
  • Lifting their head and moving their neck to track toys, voices, and faces during tummy time.
Tummy time with 5 months old

5 Months Old

At five months old, your baby shows increased upper body strength and improved hand-eye coordination. This means your baby will be more comfortable with being on their tummy and holding themselves up easier because they’ve been working hard to strengthen their arms, neck, core, and back muscles month after month. Tummy time exercises will help your baby to roll over and start crawling soon. 

As you continue with the activities from previous months, remember to keep it fun and stress-free. Your baby will reach these milestones when they are ready, and your patience and support are key in this journey.

Development goal:

  • Show an eagerness to explore their surroundings by moving their hands forward.
  • Reaching for toys within arm’s reach.
  • Performing push-ups on their hands with straight elbows.
Tummy time with 6 months old

6 Months Old

At six months old, your baby will comfortably start rolling over and may also be sitting upright. The session should last at least 10-15 minutes, several times a day, or longer if the baby enjoys it.

Development goal:

  • Tummy Time becomes more directed by baby.
  • Rolls from back to tummy and tummy to back.
  • Baby begins to prefer being on their stomach because being on their tummy allows them to play, move, and explore more easily.
7-9 months old tummy time

7-9 Months

At 7-9 months old, your baby’s tummy time will vary as they become more mobile and spend less time stationary.

Development goal:

  • Able to get in a crawling position 
  • Can rocks back and forth on hands and knees.
  • Begins to crawl, first backward, then forward.
10- 12 month old tummy time

10-12 Months

At 10-12 months, tummy time becomes part of how babies play as they are now more mobile. Some babies may start walking by this time, but if not, that’s okay, too. They will when they are ready and able. 

Development goal: 

  • Crawls efficiently.
  • May start pulling to stand.
  • Begins to cruise along furniture.

What Else Counts As Tummy Time?

If your baby hates tummy time, here are some alternatives that also counts:

  1. Burping your baby.
  2. Babywearing.
  3. Laying baby on your chest. 
  4. Laying baby on their sides.
  5. Encouraging your baby to left their heads as your carry them.
  6. Use the Football hold. 
  7. Carry them facing forward. 

Benefits of Tummy Time Beyond Physical Development 

Tummy time is essential for an infant’s overall development, offering benefits beyond physical growth. Here are some key advantages:

1. Cognitive Development

  • Problem-Solving Skills: Tummy time encourages babies to explore their environment, stimulating their curiosity and problem-solving abilities as they reach for toys and objects.
  • Sensory Experience: Being on their tummy gives babies a new perspective of the world, enhancing their sensory experiences and helping them understand spatial relationships.

2. Social and Emotional Development

  • Bonding: Tummy time provides an opportunity for parents and caregivers to interact closely with their baby, fostering emotional bonding and attachment.
  • Confidence: As babies achieve new milestones during tummy time, such as lifting their heads or rolling over, they gain confidence in their abilities.

3. Prevention of Positional Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome)

  • Head Shape: Regular tummy time helps prevent flat spots from forming on the back of the baby’s head, which can occur if the baby spends too much time lying on its back.

4. Vision Development

  • Eye Coordination: Tummy time encourages babies to lift their heads and look around, strengthening the muscles that control eye movement and coordination.
  • Depth Perception: It also helps develop depth perception as babies learn to focus on objects at different distances.

5. Language Development

  • Face-to-Face Interaction: During tummy time, caregivers often position themselves face-to-face with the baby, encouraging vocalization and early speech patterns through mimicry and interaction.
  • Listening Skills: Babies learn to recognize and respond to different sounds, aiding in developing listening skills crucial for language acquisition.

6. Hand-eye coordination and Fine Motor Skills

  • Reaching and Grasping: Babies develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they go for and manipulate toys during tummy time.
  • Tactile Exploration: Handling different textures and objects helps improve their sense of touch and manual dexterity.

7. Posture and Balance

  • Core Strength: Tummy time strengthens the core muscles, essential for good posture and balance as the baby grows.
  • Body Awareness helps babies become more aware of their bodies and how they move, laying the groundwork for sitting, crawling, and walking.

Seeking Medical Advice

If you have concerns about your baby’s response to tummy time or if they have any medical conditions that may affect their ability to participate, consult with your healthcare provider. They can offer tailored advice and guidance based on your baby’s specific needs.

Last Thoughts

Tummy time is not just a recommended practice; it’s a special time for you and your baby to bond, learn, and grow together. By incorporating this simple yet effective exercise into your routine, you’re setting the stage for a healthy and happy developmental journey for your little one.

Hope this was helpful!

Tummy Time Duration by Age

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