Beginning day one, babies should be given a substantial amount of “tummy time” in order to develop their upper body strength and head control, as well as strengthen muscles in the arms and neck. It may be an uncomfortable position for them – holding their head up is a lot of work. Tummy time is important, though, and will help babies work towards learning other motor skills such as pushing up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and pulling to stand. Not only the fact that tummy time forges a path for these movements, tummy time also promotes sensory development. From the perspective of a baby on their tummy the world is seen completely differently than when laying on their back, and that really helps with development.
So when should you do tummy time? Well, it’s important that your baby isn’t hungry or tired – but make sure they’re not fresh from a meal, either. There should be about a half hour wait after feeding so you can avoid spit-ups or infant acid reflux. If they start to cry, which could be within a minute, try to keep them on their tummy a bit longer.
So how do you keep them on their tummy when they don’t want to be? There are multiple different methods you could use to soothe your upset little one. Try entertaining him with funny faces or peek-a-boo. Distraction is key for babies while in this uncomfortable position. You could even place a toy or prop a book open for them to see and play with. Another idea is to lie on your back and place your baby on your stomach tummy-side down.
Eventually, with enough dedicated tummy time, your child will gain enough head control to gradually get used to the position and even push themselves up slightly. Get your baby in the shape they need to be in to properly develop into a fine young child!