Tummy, Tummy, Tummy Time!(Sing it, I know you want to).
I am sure when you saw the title of this you got really nervous… the fact that “tummy time” and “important” are in the same sentence may make a lot of people cringe.
I know that nowadays when people hear the phrase 'tummy time,' they have a variety of reactions: either pride, panic, fear, or dismissal. But I am here to clear it up for you.
Tummy time is important. For a lot of reasons. But it doesn't have to be this major thing hanging over your parenting like a rainy day cloud. You don't have to have complicated feelings about it. You can just see it for what it is and embrace it.
So why is Tummy Time important? Here are just a few reasons Tummy Time is important
1) Tummy time is important because when children are on their belly they see the world in a whole new perspective which means their brains have to work hard to make connections and process what they see. Their brain is growing!
2) Another reason why tummy time is important is because since children have been placed on their back for safe sleep in 1994 many children are no longer naturally on their tummy during the day as they can't get into that position on their own. They need us to put them in that position so they can learn and grow. A side effect of being placed to sleep on their backs is that many children now have plagiocephaly (flat head) and require helmets to correct the flatness.
3) When children are placed on their tummy they have to work different muscles and when done from a young age (birth is fine) they begin to use and hone these muscles in ways that are important for other milestones that come later (reaching, grabbing, sitting up, crawling, walking, running, etc).
But here's an important takeaway
Tummy time is important for all of these reasons but it's not something you need to worry about. Just put that baby down for longer increments every day and eventually they will get it. Parents tell me all the time that their child hates being on their tummy. So start young and keep doing it.
Here are some great ways to encourage tummy time without extra work
When you change a diaper, flip the baby over and let them kick around for a few minutes.
Get on the floor with your baby and either lay head to head or side by side so they are motivated .
Put some motivating toys (our cell phones are the best) in front of them to encourage reaching and grabbing.
Put a little mirror on the floor so they can see themselves and get that baby.
The bottom line is the earlier you expose them to tummy time and the more often you put them on their bellies the quicker they will adjust. Start with 2-3 minutes 3-5 times a day and increase from there.