Tummy Time: Parent's Complete Guide

Tummy Time: Parent's Complete Guide

Let’s be honest — watching our babies at all times can be challenging. From the stinky diapers and diaper changes to sleepless nights to the constant worry of if you’re even doing it right, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. And the moment we think we’ve got it all figured out as caregivers, there’s a new mountain waiting to be climbed.

One of those very first mountains, however, is tummy time

An adorable name for an activity that most little ones don’t actually enjoy, tummy time is an essential aspect of the development of your baby. And while it may seem pretty easy-peasy, any seasoned parent will tell you otherwise. 

But don’t worry — Little Yawn Collective is here to help. In this post, we’re exploring tummy time to uncover why it’s important, how to perform the activity correctly, and much more. 


How Do You Do Tummy Time With a Newborn?

Since the experts over at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started recommending that babies should be placed to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of potential dangers.  

Babies today naturally spend a lot less time on their bellies. And less time on their stomachs using certain muscles can lead to delays in the development of important motor skills — like rolling and crawling

Enter: tummy time

Making sure that your sweet baby spends a period of time each day on their belly while they’re awake will help them develop the strong neck and shoulder muscles that will prepare them to roll, scooch, crawl and sit up. 

But how exactly are you supposed to do tummy time with a newborn?

To help your small bundle get accustomed to the position, try placing your little one belly-down on your chest or across your lap. This is an unfamiliar position for newborns and can be quite uncomfortable at first — so limit sessions to a short period of time.   

What Week Should You Start Tummy Time?

While there’s really no prescription for when to hop on the tummy time train, the AAP recommends starting early to aid in your baby’s development and help prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head. In fact, babies born at full term without any health issues can usually start tummy time as soon as their first day home from the hospital. 

How Long Should a 1 Month Old Do Tummy Time?

Aim to get your new family member on their belly two to three times daily for one to two minutes each time. As your small bundle gets used to the activity, slowly increase the duration to help them build up endurance. 

After about one month of tummy time, shoot for three 5-minute sessions every day on a flat, cushioned surface, like a play mat on the floor. At this age, your sweet pea may start to lift their head briefly while on their belly and turn it from side to side. 

How Long Should You Let a Baby Cry During Tummy Time?

Does your little one fuss and cry during tummy time? Don’t worry — you’re not alone.

In fact, most babies put on a cranky face when placed belly-side down. Why? One possible reason is that they’re just not used to it yet, so the position feels a bit uncomfortable.

Babies may also dislike tummy time simply because they aren’t able to push themselves up high enough to turn their heads and look around. And who can blame them? Being stuck face-down without the ability to move much would make just about everyone grumpy. 

That being said, tummy time is a critical activity for development. 

Your baby may cry, but try not to automatically pick them up. Instead, comfort your tiny tot in other ways, like singing soothing songs or rubbing their back.


Can My Baby Do Tummy Time Right After Feeding?

Babies do best when following a routine, so many experts recommend working tummy time into your daily schedule — for example, right after a warm bath using our Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash.  

You might consider the activity following a feeding when your little one is full and happy, but it’s not advised. Why? Because for some babies, laying on their belly when full may disrupt digestion — which could quickly lead to gas, spit-up, and stress for both mom and baby.  

Does Having Your Baby on Your Chest Count As Tummy Time?

Absolutely! Time spent with your baby’s chest against your own does count as tummy time— and it’s an excellent way to bond with your newest family member when you bring your baby home

Mix it up – if your small bundle spent the morning snuggled up on your chest, place them belly-side-down on the floor when doing the activity again in the afternoon.  

What Happens if My Baby Doesn’t Get Tummy Time?

Tummy time is essential in helping young children grow big and strong. And according to researchers, babies who spend less time on their bellies tend to meet milestones and develop motor skills at a slower rate than babies who spend more time on their bellies

Spending time belly-side-down helps tiny tots increase flexibility and eventually learn to push up to all fours, rollover, sit-up, scoot, crawl, and pull to a stand. It also builds cognitive skills by providing little ones with different perspectives. 

Needless to say, tummy time is pretty essential!

When Should I Start Skin-to-Skin?

You may have heard that skin-to-skin — aka kangaroo care — is only essential immediately following birth. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, skin-to-skin is encouraged not only immediately right after the arrival of your new tiny bundle and throughout the hospital stay but well after discharge, too.

Babies love to be snuggled and cuddled — as every parent knows. But new evidence suggests that skin-to-skin contact does much more than just make the baby happy. The practice helps:

  • Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
  • Regulates the little one’s heart rate and breathing
  • Stimulates digestion
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Stimulates hormone production to support breastfeeding 

So, is three months of age too late for skin-to-skin? Absolutely not! In fact, there’s no set age when parents should stop the practice. The gift of touch continues to be very important as your sweet baby transforms into a tiny toddler and then a small child. 

Plus, skin-to-skin also counts as tummy time, and we already know how beneficial this essential developmental activity is for our little ones. 

What Can I Do To Make Tummy Time More Enjoyable?

Hearing your sweet pea fuss and cry every time they’re put down on their belly is tough — but it doesn’t mean you should call it quits on tummy time! Here are a few tips you can try to help make the experience a bit more enjoyable for your baby:

Tip #1: Get Down on Your Tummy, Too

Wondering how to coax your baby to stay on their belly when they can’t stand tummy time? Become your little one’s ‘tummy time companion’ and get down on your belly, too. Lie on the floor so that you’re face-to-face with your baby and talk, sing, or play peek-a-boo while making eye contact

Not only is this an easy way to distract your small bundle, but it’s also an excellent way to bond.   

Tip #2: Schedule Tummy Time Wisely

To help set your baby up for tummy time success, aim to do the activity when your tiny tot is in a good mood — like after a calming infant massage using our Nourishing Body Lotion.  

Tip #3: Provide Entertainment

Toys can go a long way in helping to keep your little one engaged — and therefore, happy — during tummy time. 

Conclusion

No matter how you tackle tummy time with your sweet baby, make it fun and keep it safe. 

Babies should always be supervised and put in a safe area during tummy time. Never leave your little one unattended, and avoid placing them belly-side-down immediately following a feeding to prevent spit-up. 

To help make tummy time more enjoyable, we recommend doing the activity when your baby is in a good mood — like after a warm bubble bath with our soothing shampoo and body wash or following a relaxing infant massage using our nourishing body lotion

Here at Little Yawn Collective, we know how tough parenting can be. That’s why we masterfully created our line of sleepy essentials to help make life a little easier. 

Whether you’re searching for melatonin-free children’s sleep solutions or could simply use some support to help guide you through tummy time, you can always count on us to have your back. 

Sources:  

Study: More than half of infants sleep with soft bedding or on unapproved surface | AAP News | American Academy of Pediatrics

Research on skin-to-skin contact | Baby Friendly Initiative

Experts at Packard Children's describe benefits of touch for babies, parents | News Center | Stanford Medicine

Tummy Time and Infant Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review | PubMed

Infant Torticollis: What Parents Should Know About Signs & Treatment | Intermountain Healthcare

Tummy Time and Infant Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review | AAP

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