Easy Guide To Tummy Time

Tummy time is a useful approach to help your baby strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles while improving motor skills. Let’s find out what tummy time is and how to start.

By URLife Team
31 Jul 2023

Upon bringing a newborn baby home from the hospital, parents instinctively dedicate themselves to providing the utmost care and comfort. They ensure a well-stocked supply of essentials such as nappies, baby oil, baby soaps, and baby food, making it easier to attend to the newborn's needs. Massages using baby oil become an essential part of the baby's development, aiding in strengthening their growing body.


However, to further promote the baby's bone and muscle strength, many parents also practise tummy time. This is the act of placing a baby on their stomach when awake.. This simple method proves to be effective in enhancing the baby's physical development. If you don’t know much about tummy time, and how to get started, keep reading to find out:


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What is tummy time?

Tummy time refers to the practice of placing a baby on their stomach while they are awake, under supervision. It is an essential activity recommended by paediatricians and child development experts for promoting the healthy development of infants.


Tummy time should always be done under supervision to ensure the baby's safety and well-being. If a baby becomes fussy or uncomfortable during tummy time, try to make it more enjoyable by engaging with them, using toys, or getting down on the floor with them.


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Benefits of tummy time

According to a 2020 systematic review published in the American Academics of Pediatrics, babies who engaged in more tummy time showed improved gross motor skills, a decreased BMI-z score (weight status), and earlier proficiency in rolling and crawling. But, there was no noticeable acceleration in their ability to sit or walk compared to babies who received less dedicated tummy time.


During tummy time, the baby lies on their stomach on a firm, flat surface, such as a play mat or a blanket on the floor. This position allows the baby to lift their head, neck, and chest off the ground, which helps to strengthen their neck muscles and develop the muscles in their upper body.

1. Strengthening muscles

It helps babies develop the muscles needed to control their head and eventually sit up, crawl, and walk.


2. Preventing flat spots

Regularly alternating between tummy time and other positions helps reduce the risk of developing a flat spot on the back of the baby's head (positional plagiocephaly).


3. Enhancing motor skills

The practice contributes to the development of gross motor skills, which are essential for physical activities and coordination.


4. Visual development

Being on their stomach allows babies to explore the world from a different perspective, stimulating their visual development.


5. Building independence

Tummy time encourages the baby to use their arms and legs to move, promoting a sense of independence and exploration.


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When to start practising tummy time?

Tummy time should be started early on, even during the first few weeks of a baby's life, for short periods throughout the day. As the baby grows and gains strength, the duration of tummy time can be gradually increased. It's important to make tummy time enjoyable for the baby by engaging with them, using toys, or providing mirrors to capture their attention. Always ensure the baby is supervised during tummy time to ensure their safety. If a baby is not comfortable during tummy time, parents should consult their paediatrician for guidance and alternatives.


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How long should you do tummy time?

The duration of tummy time varies based on the age of the baby and their individual comfort level. It is generally recommended to start tummy time early on, even in the first few weeks of a baby's life, and gradually increase the duration as the baby grows and gains strength.



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General Guidelines for Tummy Time based on Baby's Age

Here are some general guidelines for tummy time based on the baby's age:

Newborns (0-3 months)

Aim for short sessions of tummy time, starting with just a few minutes after each diaper change, a couple of times a day. As the baby becomes more accustomed to tummy time and gains neck and upper body strength, the sessions can be extended to a total of around 20-30 minutes spread throughout the day.


3-6 months

By this age, babies usually enjoy tummy time more, and their muscles are stronger. Aim for about 40-60 minutes of tummy time throughout the day, divided into multiple sessions.


6-9 months

As the baby continues to grow and develop, they can handle longer tummy time sessions. Try to provide around 1 hour of tummy time per day, distributed over several periods.


9-12 months

At this stage, most babies are actively crawling or close to crawling. Tummy time may still be beneficial, but they will likely be more interested in exploring their surroundings through crawling and other forms of movement.


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Anjaneya Reddy 16 Aug 2023


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