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Tummy Time: The Why’s and How’s of Baby’s Daily Workout!

January 7, 2013

2438220025_3fd5cdb912_zIn recent years, research has suggested that the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can be lowered by making sure that infants sleep on their backs. In fact, since moms and dads nationwide have been putting their babies to sleep in this way, incidences of SIDS have greatly decreased. But all of that time on baby’s back limits the amount of head movement, torso strengthening, and visual stimulation he receives, which is why Tummy Time is recommended by many pediatricians as early as two weeks of age.

Starting between two and four weeks of age, lay a mat on the floor for your baby and rest her on her tummy, allowing her to try to lift her head and move her torso freely. Many babies may be resistant to this at first, and you might want to start with just a 30 or 60 second session of Tummy Time each day. Gradually, you might increase those sessions to five or ten minutes, a couple of times per day. And if you find that your little one loves time on his tummy, you can allow him to see the world with his belly side down for up to 20 or 30 minutes at a time.

Tummy Time allows your baby to strengthen important muscles in her neck, torso, and arms. Babies on their bellies will lift their heads to get a view of the world, crane their necks, and lift their torsos. Research has determined that tummy time leads to better motor skills and easier crawling.

In addition, your baby gets the benefit of seeing his world right side up! This makes it easier for your baby to locate sources of sounds and movements. In addition, carrying your baby upright, holding her on your lap vertically, and letting her sit in a bouncy chair or stroller will allow her to experience the world in the correct orientation.

Babies can also develop a bit of a flat area on the backs of their heads if not given enough time off their backs. Allowing them to remain upright, or giving them time on their tummies, will help in the development of their head shape as they grow so rapidly in those early weeks and months.

If you have questions about when to start your baby on a Tummy Tim routine, or if you have difficulty getting him to focus and exercise while he’s on his belly, talk to your pediatrician. Sometimes, small adjustments can be made to the surface he’s lying on, his exact position, or the fit of his clothing, and can make a difference in how your baby experiences this important developmental exercise.

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