Tummy time enables your newborn baby to receive several essential developmental benefits as your newborn engages their entire body to lay the foundation of all of their sensorimotor skills for their entire life.
How exactly do you do tummy time? Follow the timeline below and read the tummy time tips. It’s never too late to start tummy time exercises, and to give your baby all the tools they need to reap the tummy time benefits.
Tummy Time Timeline
- From birth to 3 weeks: Tummy time should start the day baby comes home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A good time to play with your newborn in this position is after a diaper change or nap. Begin by placing your baby on your chest (practice Kangaroo Care), as often as possible and preferably skin to skin while you are laying down. In the first few weeks, try tummy time for 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times a day, at different times of the day. Your newborn can build up to 10-15 minutes a day.
- Around age 3 weeks to 1 month: One to two times daily, hold your baby upright with their belly against your upper chest and their head resting against your shoulder. Gently support your newborn’s neck and head with your hand. As they lift their head they are strengthening their neck and back. This simple exercise allows babies to develop the ability to move their face out of a blanket or mattress in case they accidentally roll to the stomach. When you do place him on his tummy, gently lift his head a tiny bit. Show him how to slowly swing his face to the side. Place safe objects and toys close to your newborn. Move them from side to side in front of her face. This encourages her to move, lift and turn her head.
- At age 2-3 months: It is easier for your newborn if you place your hand under their chest during the tummy exercise. This helps to lift your baby a tiny bit. Always put both of their arms in front to help them start learning how to use their arms to push up.
Tummy Time Tips
- Supervise your newborn during tummy time. Never leave your baby alone. As they get stronger and start moving more, clear away dangerous objects like tables with sharp corners.
- If your baby doesn’t like tummy time on the floor, do tummy time on a rolled-up towel or your lap. You can later transition to the floor.
- Newborn babies have limited strength and poor head control. They tend to cry. Thus some parents fear and avoid it. Begin with brief sessions, a few minutes at a time. The key is to stay consistent. Then gradually increase the time as they grow through tummy time. Prepare to be amazed how quickly your newborn will gain strength and develop their vestibular system. They will improve coordination, sensory, oral and motor skills, all while they build self-confidence.
- Get down on your baby’s level, interact by talking eye-to-eye. Sing songs, stroke their back, and tickle their hands. Engage in facial expressions, smile, and encourage touch. This enables your child to feel safe and secure in tummy time, ultimately enjoying the experience and benefits of learning to move and play.