Tummy time involves placing your baby on their stomach when they are awake. From the newborn stage onwards, tummy time is really important for your baby. The main reason is that it provides your baby with the opportunity to strengthen their postural muscles to help develop their head and neck control, upper limb strength and upper back strength – which will then help your baby to develop their ability to roll, sit and crawl (as well as hold their head up and engage with others and so much more). It also helps to protect the shape of their head.
But what do we do if tummy time is a battle?
Its pretty typical for your baby to be unsettled during tummy time, especially early on. It’s important to increase the opportunities for tummy time, but this can be really challenging, particularly if your baby isn’t the biggest fan of being on their tummy. So here’s the secret I want you all to know – time on a parents chest counts!!! Yes, you heard correct!! The time with your baby is up on your chest counts as tummy time. That might be time in a baby carrier, time lying on you, or time during kangaroo care (particularly important for all those on your NICU journey). Especially initially, when you’re trying to help your baby get used to tummy time, any time where your baby’s chest/tummy is again yours counts as tummy time!
It is recommended to start exposing your baby to having time on their tummy when they are awake as early as possible, and for multiple times during the day. Babies will gradually become used to spending time on their tummy. Babies who were born early, or those with larger heads may take longer to develop their neck control when on their tummies.
Other important points to consider:
- Only have baby on their tummy when awake.
- Return baby to their back for sleeping.
- Always supervise baby during tummy time.
- If you’re using a baby carrier, follow the manufacturer’s advice. For more information on safety during tummy time, consult Red Nose Australia.