As a parent of a new baby, there is a lot to learn... and it won’t be long before the phrase “tummy time” enters your vocabulary. Tummy time is a great way to support your baby’s development while helping baby explore and become comfortable with the world around them. Before you have your baby, you'll want to know the best tummy time positions to start with in the newborn phase and beyond so you can set your baby up for success. The good news is that our Baby 101: The Parenting Prerequisite course covers all of this and more, including tummy time demonstrations with real babies.
But first, let’s take a closer look at what even IS tummy time, why it's important, and when to start.
What is tummy time?
Tummy time is exactly what it sounds like: a short period of time when you place babies on their stomach while they are awake and supervised to promote muscle strength and motor skills.
Why is tummy time important?
Tummy time offers babies a number of benefits. Practicing tummy time helps to:
- Support baby’s physical development. Baby gets to work on strengthening their neck, back, chest, and arm muscles, while practicing head control.
- Increase flexibility.
- Expose baby’s body to different textures.
- Allow baby to visually explore the world in a new way.
Tummy time is particularly important these days, when we recommend putting babies on their backs to sleep. It prevents the back of baby’s head from developing flat spots (positional plagiocephaly) as well as giving baby a chance to experience a different position and point of view.
When should you start doing tummy time?
Right away! You can start tummy time as soon as baby is born. Even before baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you can lie on your back with baby on your chest. Baby will work to see your face and begin to get comfortable spending time on their belly.
If your baby was born prematurely or has reflux, talk to your health care provider as baby may need special considerations for tummy time.
How much tummy time do newborns need?
Newborns should ideally practice tummy time 2-3 times per day for 3-5 minutes each. You may need to work up to this and that’s okay; babies have different tolerances for tummy time as they get used to it. Eventually, you can work up to longer periods of time depending on your baby’s needs and preferences. By three months, aim to achieve about 60 minutes of tummy time each day.
Now that you know how important tummy time is, you're probably wondering how to start tummy time, and the best positions to start with in the newborn phase and beyond. Our Baby 101: The Parenting Prerequisite course covers all the best positions, includes demonstrations with real babies -- AND our expert breaks down what to do if your baby seems to hate tummy time (more common than you think!)
About our Expert
Ashley Derderian Sousa is a board-certified lactation consultant and registered nurse with nearly ten years of experience in labor, delivery, and postpartum units. Through approachable methods and open and honest philosophy, she believes each journey to becoming a parent is a personal one that should be met with self-compassion. She is currently completing a Masters of Health Education.