Physical Therapy: When to Start Tummy Time

The first couple of days as a new parent may seem extremely overwhelming. You were given a laundry list of do’s and don’ts from your doctor, family members, and books. You may have heard the words "tummy time" thrown around within the mix of Do’s. Tummy time is when you place your baby on their belly for an extended period of time. It strengthens muscles needed to lift their head, roll over, and eventually sit.

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When to Start?

Try to implement tummy time within the first week of being home. As you know, babies sleep for a majority of the time during their first of couple days alive. Too much time spent on one’s back may cause a flat spot on his/her head. The baby is often placed on the mother’s chest for skin-to-skin interaction in the first couple of hours after birth. This is considered tummy time! Continue to lay your newborn on your chest while lying in bed or on the couch.  At first, aim for 3-5 minutes of tummy time about 2-3 times a day. As your child gets older and stronger, increase to 40-60 minutes of tummy times a day.

Tips for Tummy Time

Tummy time creates a playful environment for parent and child to interact. Place your baby on a clean blanket or mat while meeting your baby at eye level. If your newborn can only last a minute or two on the blanket, transition to your chest instead. During Tummy time, rattle toys or hold up mirrors for your child to look at. You can sing a song during this time as well. Other ways to implement tummy time with an infant include, burping him or her on your lap, drying off after a bath, or smoothing on lotion.

When to stop Tummy Time?

Tummy time will never officially come to an end. Once your baby has gained more strength, lying on their stomach to play will become a normal position. This usually occurs once they are able to move from tummy to side to back, and from back to side to tummy on their own. Rolling from their back onto their tummy will be the last movement learned. This generally occurs between 5-7 months old. At that point, you will not need to worry extensively about the hours your child spends on their tummy, as it will become second nature to them.

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References:

Chanda. "When Do I Stop Worrying About Tummy Time?" Pink Oatmeal. N.p., 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 June 2016.

"Tummy Time for Your Baby: What It Is and How to Do It." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.