When is tummy time for babies?

In this DocTalk video, Grace C. Yu, MD, FAAP, Pediatrics, at ARC Cedar Park Building C talks about tummy time for babies, saying there are “countless benefits” to putting babies on their tummy during play or awake time.

Dr. Yu explains the benefits of tummy time and offers recommendations for how often and how long, as well as some very sage advice to parents on enjoying this fleeting time in your baby's development. “Enjoy those daily tummy time moments because before you know it your baby is going to be up and walking into toddlerhood,” she says.

Watch the video or read the transcript below.

Tummy time is when we describe putting babies on their tummies, when they’re awake or when they're playing. You can start tummy time any time, even when you go home with your newborn. A good way of starting this is perhaps having a caregiver lie back a little bit and having baby right on your chest on their tummy and it really encourages them to look up at your face. So, the earlier you start tummy time the better.

Benefits of tummy time:

  • Develops baby’s muscles
  • Prepares baby for rolling over, sitting up, walking
  • Prevention of head-flattening (plagiocephaly)

There are countless benefits to putting babies on their tummy during play or awake time. A major one is where it really helps to help them develop their motor strength in their head and their neck muscles. Also, their core and their back; by doing so it sets them up for good success in meeting those major motor milestones such as rolling over, sitting, pulling up, eventually even walking. Other benefits include prevention of something called plagiocephaly which is head flattening in the back and as well as just giving the baby a whole new way to view the world.

Tummy time guidelines:

  • 2-3 times a day
  • 3-5 minutes per session to start
  • Gradually increase
  • One hour combined time per day at 3 months old

Tummy time is really a crucial part of a baby's development and it’s not really optional. For babies who don’t do this enough we oftentimes see them lag on their physical development. A baby should start off with two to three increments a day of tummy time lasting about three to five minutes and then going up from there as baby tolerates. A good goal to strive for is that when baby is three months old to have at least one hour of combined tummy time throughout the day so there's really unlimited maximum time for tummy time. So, if they're enjoying it and they have toys to stimulate them and you're with them, the longer they can stay on tummy time when they're awake and energetic and content the better.

Tummy time safety:

  • Baby is awake
  • Adult is supervising
  • Baby is on a safe surface
  • Move baby to crip for sleep, placing them back on their back

The key to keeping babies safe during tummy time is really making sure that they're awake when they’re doing this and that you’re supervising them the entire time. Make sure you have a safe surface like a clean floor or mat, some place that the baby cannot roll and fall off. Of course, if baby does start falling asleep or getting sleepy do move the baby to a safe spot for sleep like a crib or a bassinet, and then place them back on their back.

A baby is too old for tummy time usually when they start rolling over both ways on their own and when they're sitting up. This is because they really start independently spending time off their back, so you don't have to have dedicated tummy time. You can do it if you want to but usually you can just encourage them through these new movements of their own. Always remember -- back to sleep, tummy to play!

Tummy time is really a small component of a baby's development but that first year is such an amazing time of growth and change for both the babies and for parents so and do enjoy those daily tummy time moments because before you know it your baby is going to be up and walking into toddlerhood.

ARC Pediatrics

ARC has pediatricians in 23 locations around Central Texas for your convenience. We offer appointments to fit your schedule and lifestyle, including regular clinic visits, Telemedicine Visits, Same-Day Visits, After Hours appointments, and 24/7 phone nurses. Our pediatricians offer a full range of services for patients from birth through 18 years. Learn more at ARC Pediatrics.

Make an appointment today

Dr. Yu is currently accepting new patients. Make an appointment today by calling ARC Cedar Park Building C at 512-259-3467 or online.

Tags: Tummy time, DocTalk