What exactly is “tummy time?”
Tummy time is a strengthening activity that begins with placing your baby on their stomach to play during wakeful times. This activity puts babies in position to practice lifting their bodies and heads and to begin controlling their movements. These skills are such an important building block for babies to strengthen their muscles and help them acquire their developmental milestones.
Why is tummy time so important?
It is the BEST strengthening activity you can give your baby! Playing on their bellies engages every muscle in their body and sets in place functional movement patterns for future skill development such as rolling, sitting and crawling. Since the baby’s entire physiological system is integrated into this activity, tummy time also leads to gains with vision, fine motor skills and cognition. Without adequate floor play, many children may develop atypical motor patterns or struggle to reach their milestones.
Why is an activity that looks so simple so difficult for your baby?
Learning how to control and lift one’s body without muscle strength is a lot of work when you’re a newborn! The stronger the baby becomes, the easier tummy time will be. Soon, they learn to direct their movements and will begin exploring their environments on their own. Persistence and consistent practice will lead to your baby’s success in making the most gains from tummy time.
How can you help your baby be comfortable during tummy time?
Try short bouts of tummy time often throughout the day (every awake period). Use supports to improve your child’s success. A boppy pillow or towel roll under their chest (supervised of course) can help them shift their weight backwards and lift their head more successfully. Another strategy is to prop their elbows under their shoulders and help them feel more stable!
Remember, even chest-to-chest counts! When your baby is lying on your chest, vary your body angle to make your baby work less or more. Using multiple strategies and providing rest breaks will allow your baby to get the most out of tummy time.
Learn more about Total Pediatric Therapy and how we can help.
As a Pediatric Physical Therapist, I work with my patients on tummy time during every session using many of the above-mentioned strategies. This allows me to facilitate proper muscle strengthening, leading my patients to reach their developmental milestones.
Here at Total Pediatric Therapy our mission is to help your child achieve their greatest potential mobility, thus enabling them to thrive in their environments. If your baby is struggling with tummy time or has other physical therapy needs, please Contact us to arrange an evaluation. Also follow us on Facebook or Instagram for helpful tips and updated news!