Babies need to be on their tummies throughout the day, but many parents don’t realize why. Don’t let tummy time slip away from your daily routine! Here are reasons why it’s so important to give your baby tummy time and how to practice this step of the baby’s developmental process.
What Is Tummy Time?
If you’re like most new parents, your baby’s doctor probably told you that tummy time was important. You may even have read about it online or in books and wondered, Why? Is there a real benefit to my baby learning how to do tummy time exercises? And if so, does she need to do it every day? It turns out that there are some real benefits (and challenges) to learning how to do tummy time exercises as an infant.
Tummy time helps babies strengthen their neck muscles and core (in addition to other essential muscles) so they can begin crawling or rolling onto their stomachs on their own when they get older.
Benefits of Tummy Time
Tummy time is important because it lets your baby practice moving around and gives her a chance to grow strong muscles. Those strong muscles will help keep her joints flexible, which helps with crawling, walking, and even holding up her head.
Without tummy time, your baby will get stiff—and that can lead to dangerous positions (like when she falls asleep on her back). Think of tummy time as a warm-up for life! Don’t be surprised if at first, you have to help your baby get used to it. You may notice that she kicks and squirms at first or doesn’t want to stay down for long periods.
The Baby Learns How to Roll Over
Tummy time helps babies learn how to roll over and strengthen their neck muscles, which are used to keep their heads upright. This will help prevent the baby from having neck pain or pain in her back as she grows up. Tummy time can also teach your baby about gravity and cause and effect—one of her favorite playtime activities.
A lot of parents find it difficult to ensure that their child has enough tummy time throughout her day, but there are several ways you can introduce it into her routine. For example, you could place your baby on a blanket on the floor during bathtime or while she’s playing at home with you or a sibling.
The Baby Gets Used to Their Surroundings
Our surroundings are constantly changing and developing, from our home to our place of work. From a very young age, your baby is used to experiencing new environments as you take them around in their pram or travel with them in your car. They may be taking it all in and absorbing it, though they won’t be able to tell you what they’re thinking or feeling just yet.
All of these new experiences are stimulating and will help stimulate their brain development. Tummy time allows your baby to experience a different environment while allowing your baby time to come face-to-face with their toys and other belongings from around their room. This face-to-face stimulation will help develop speech patterns in no time at all.
The Baby Develops Head, Neck, and Body Control
During tummy time, the baby practices moving his head from side to side and lifting it. He can also try bringing his hands toward his face. (But keep in mind that he’s too young to sit unassisted.) By rolling from back to belly and vice versa, the baby begins learning how to control her head and neck muscles—the same ones she uses when sitting up.
Tummy time also helps the baby develop upper body strength by making her push herself up on her arms while kicking and scooting across your floor or play mat. As a result, she’ll eventually be able to lift herself into a seated position—and beyond.
It Develops the Muscles in the Neck and Shoulders
We all know that children spend a lot of time on their bellies, whether they’re playing or sleeping. Tummy time develops strength in important muscles at a young age, which will help reduce pain in their shoulders and neck as they get older.
It helps prevent flat head syndrome: The greatest danger of spending too much time on one’s back is developing the flat head syndrome. This happens when babies are placed on their backs to sleep before they have control over their neck muscles; if they can’t lift their heads, it causes pressure to build up and results in a misshapen skull.
It Promotes Motor Skills Development
Tummy time is important for babies because it helps promote motor skills development. Tummy time may not seem like a big deal, but it’s one of many crucial milestones that babies need to reach before they’re ready to walk.
At 8 weeks old, most babies will begin supporting their head with their hands, and by 12 weeks they can roll over both ways and even lift their heads a little bit off of the floor while on their tummies. You might be wondering if it matters which direction your baby rolls—it doesn’t! They just need to practice until they get used to balancing themselves on their bellies. Rolling from back to belly takes coordination and strength to work correctly.
It Strengthens the Core Muscle Groups
The plank may be one of the most overused exercises in fitness today, but there’s a reason it’s used so much—it works. When babies are first learning to roll over, tummy time helps strengthen their core muscles and stabilize their spine as they move into new positions.
Strong core muscles are essential for balance and as children begin to walk; having strong abdominal muscles will help them stay upright. Tummy time also improves hand-eye coordination because your baby has to focus on tracking objects across her field of vision while on her belly, making tummy time great fun for your little explorer!
It Helps Develop Hand-Eye Coordination
It may seem like tummy time isn’t important at first—after all, it doesn’t seem like babies are doing much while they’re lying on their stomachs. But being able to flip around and manipulate objects with her hands is an essential skill that will help your baby develop hand-eye coordination. This, in turn, will help her do things like: learn how to grab toys she wants; hold writing utensils later on in life, and build eye-hand coordination.
Tummy Time Should Be Fun
A study showed that when an infant lays on their back and looked at a toy, there was less eye contact with the parent than when they lay on their stomach or side. Babies need to be able to see your face and make eye contact; otherwise, it can affect how well they interact with you as they grow up. Tummy time encourages social development in infants.
Another benefit of tummy time for babies is that it allows them to practice using their neck muscles.: Studies have shown that infants who spend more time on their tummy develop stronger neck muscles than those who don’t. Stronger neck muscles are important because developing babies rely heavily on them while they learn how to sit up independently.
Tummy Time Safety Tips
To ensure that Tummy Time goes smoothly and safely, it’s important to make sure you lay your baby on a firm surface, like a mat or carpeted floor. Don’t worry about supporting their head, just let them relax on their tummy. If they start to cry or fuss because they want to be held, go ahead and pick them up — it’s not worth making them uncomfortable or miserable just so you can give yourself some extra time with them. Just remember: This is about establishing good habits early in life.
Tummy time is extremely important for babies to strengthen their neck and back muscles. It helps keep them from developing flat spots on their head, which are common in babies who don’t have enough tummy time. And it also boosts brain development, which can help prevent learning disabilities. But what you might not know is that it has a lot of other benefits as well, like helping with digestion and vision development. Your baby must get plenty of tummy time as she grows into a toddler, so take advantage of every opportunity to do tummy time with her!