Tummy time? Yes! And it’s not just about playing. We’ve all heard of it but tummy time with your newborn is actually really important and here's why...
Lots of babies are filmed lifting their head as soon as they are born but that doesn’t mean they have nailed it (but yes, your baby is probably a super hero!) Joanne Cox, M.D. is a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital Boston. She explained that while tummy time famously helps with further developments, like rolling and sitting, there is a bit more to it.
Tummy time encourages your baby to practise reaching and pivoting. Why is that important? Because these little things are the precursors to crawling! We don’t want to be rushing them (obviously) but research has shown that a lack of tummy time can delay your baby from meeting physical milestones (you know the ones…lifting their head, rolling over, sitting up etc.)
Tummy time is also the perfect counter balance to safe sleeping advice. As a rule, most babies will spend 15 hours a day lying on their back. We’ve all seen that old man bald spot (yes…we love it to!) but lying on their back for long periods can lead to flat spot. Tummy time is the best way to give your baby time off their head!
Finally, a recent study (2020) showed a link between tummy time and improved cardiovascular health and BMI.
Who knew something that seems so simple could have such long lasting benefit?
Tummy time (but not as we know it) can begin as early as 2 weeks old. You might even be doing it without knowing.
Laying your newborn on your chest is the perfect way to introduce tummy time. You’ll, most likely, do it more than you notice but planning in 30 second windows when they are awake and alert will set them up for the real deal later on. TIP don’t do it on a full stomach, they will probably throw up!
They’re just lying with their head down? Don’t worry! Most babies don’t LOVE tummy time to start with but they will get used to it as they build more strength. We don’t like working out either!
By the time your baby is a couple of months old you should be aiming for 3 sessions of tummy time a day (around 5 minutes long) on a flat, cushioned surface. Got a favourite play mat? Get them used to it as early as you can. TIP if they seem uncomfortable/really hate it, roll up a little blanket and pop it under their arms (like a pregnancy pillow). It’s a little more comfortable and they will be able to see more. Shop our selection of tummy time favourites here
By 4 months your baby will probably be lifting their head and chest off the floor and may be trying to use their elbows for a little boost! Those little feet will most likely be kicking away too. Don’t take your eyes of them though; the roll is coming! The joy that comes from that first roll is equal parts amazing and hilarious!
From 4 months you can aim for 15-30 minutes of dedicated tummy time. Encourage your baby to play with things just out of reach to keep them entertained. A good game of ‘roll the baby back over’ never goes amiss!
From 6 months old dedicated tummy time probably won’t be necessary. Your baby will most likely be spending lots of time sat up and moving around.
Now…let's talk weaning!