“Tummy time” is the practice of placing babies on their abdomen while they are AWAKE and SUPERVISED BY AN ADULT to help them develop strong neck, back and shoulder muscles. Aside from this, tummy time also helps prevent flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) which is due to the baby lying on his/her back too often and too long and twisted neck (positional torticollis) which is due to the baby’s head being always turned to one side. Start the practice early – as early as baby’s first day at home – for 2 to 3 times per day, 3 to 5 minutes each session. Gradually increase the length and frequency of tummy time sessions as the baby grows older. Aim to have at least a total of 1 hour tummy time by the time the baby reaches 3 months old. Continue placing baby on his/her tummy until the baby starts to crawl at around 7 to 9 months old. Some babies may not like to be on prone position but do not be disheartened. You can do the following to help baby enjoy your tummy time sessions:
1) Instead of placing baby on the floor, place him/her on your chest instead while you are lying down so he/she can see your face. You can also sit on a chair and place baby on your closed legs.
2) Place a toy or a mirror in front of them to catch their attention.
3) Place toys in a circle around the baby so that he/she will reach for them.
Make tummy time a part of your daily routine. In the first few weeks of life when the baby still cannot lift his/her head up, turn his/head side-to-side so that he/she will not prefer a certain side. Remember! Do tummy time ONLY WHEN THE CHILD IS AWAKE AND SUPERVISED. Babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs as this increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Special thanks to Baby Maddie’s parents for allowing me to use her as the perfect poster girl for tummy time.