The Benefits of Tummy Time
There is growing research that demonstrates the importance of “tummy time” for infant development. What exactly is tummy time? Tummy time is simply the time which you allow your baby (while supervised) to lay and play flat on his or her stomach. Studies show that babies who have increased tummy time meet major developmental milestones quicker and develop stronger musculature than those who do not. This makes it easier to do things like roll over, sit up and crawl.
When on their stomach, babies can freely move their arms, hands and legs in all ranges of motion. This helps them to strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and legs. The infants who spend more time on their tummies usually crawl earlier too. Crawling is crucial for healthy formation of the hip joints.
Tummy time can also prevent positional plagiocephaly. This is when the back of a baby’s head becomes flat. Since babies skull bones are very soft, the more time they spend on their backs, the more chance the skull bones can shift into a flatter shape. Stomach time can also help prevent torticollis. This is a condition when the head gets persistently turned to one side. Please note that although it is important to place your baby on their stomachs when awake, it is not encouraged for you to place your baby on their stomach while sleeping.
So, when and how long should you allow for tummy time? You can start to lay your baby on his or her tummy as soon as they come home from the hospital. Just a few a few minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day, will help strengthen your baby’s muscles and increase range of motion. As your baby gets used to being on their stomach, gradually increase the time (up to an hour at a time).
There are several ways you can do tummy time with your baby as well! Aside from letting them lay flat on the ground, you can lay your baby on top of your belly or chest so that they are face-to-face with you. While burping them, sit up and place the baby face down on your knees. This will be very calming for them as well. You can also safely carry your baby around by placing your hand between their legs and under their tummy.
Experiment with tummy time and have fun with your baby while doing it.
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