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Tummy Time Tips!

Are you the mom (or dad) who is constantly questioning whether or not your baby is getting enough tummy time? And while they are seeming to suffer while lying on their tummy, you wonder why this is even necessary when all it really does is make your baby mad? Surviving tummy time is one of the (many) struggles of parenthood. Some babies love it while others make it seem as though you have abandoned them in the middle of nowhere. As difficult as it may seem for those infants, tummy time is an essential part of development and there are ways to make it more enjoyable for both you and baby!

Babies need tummy time for muscle development. Those big milestones you are looking for in their first year like holding up their head, rolling over, sitting, crawling and pulling themselves to stand are all linked to your baby spending time on their tummy. Their neck and back muscles strengthen when they are placed on their tummy and each one plays an important part in reaching these milestones.

Tummy time is also important in the development of the cervical lordosis…huh?? While in utero, babies are curled up in the fetal position from head to tail (not literally tail, but you get what I mean). While this “C” shape curve is normal for the middle back, it is actually opposite of the natural curve for the neck and lower back. Tummy time is an essential part of forming the natural curves of the spine that help to maintain balance and posture throughout childhood and into adulthood. This curve will help make sure their nervous system can function with less stress.

Another concern for new parents (let’s be real, there are a thousand) is the dreaded “flat spot”. This is common in children who are placed on their back for most of the day. Unlike the cranial bones in an adult, the bones in a newborn are not fully fused meaning they can ever so slightly move. With repeated pressure on one area of the head, the bones in the skull shift creating a flat spot. This problem does not cause the child pain nor does it alter development. It is simply a cosmetic issue and most parents strive for their child to have a perfectly round and symmetrical head shape. By ensuring enough tummy time, the muscles in the back of the neck strengthen and help hold their head in a stable position which prevents their bones from shifting.

We recommend that newborns start with fifteen minutes of tummy time per day. That time should increase by about one minute every week. That being said, this does not mean all fifteen minutes need to be done in one sitting nor does it have to be flat on the floor, especially for a brand-new baby! Below you will find some tips to make tummy time enjoyable for both you and your baby.

Newborn

  • Tummy to tummy: Holding baby in an upright position on your chest counts as tummy time
  • Tummy down carry: Lay baby across your forearm facing downward/outward to carry them
  • Lap soothe: While sitting down, lay baby across your lap belly down to soothe them.

1 Month +

  • Place a towel/blanket under their chest to help prop them up
  • Supervise play: Baby wants to see you! Interact with them while they are in tummy time so they don’t think they are alone.
  • Lay on your back with baby on your chest: Again, baby wants to see that you are there!
  • Do 1-2 minutes of tummy time after each diaper change, or as long as they can tolerate it
  • As baby gets older, place toys and colorful objects in front of and to the sides for them to reach for
  • Do tummy time when baby is most happy during the day
  • Avoid tummy time immediately after eating

So, what if I try all of these tips and my baby still hates tummy time? If your baby continues to appear uncomfortable during tummy time, there may be an underlying reason for their discomfort. Gas pains or constipation can make lying on their tummy uncomfortable. Muscular weakness or tension may produce discomfort while trying to support their head in tummy time. They may also have subluxations which can lead to the inability to turn their head due to discomfort or nerve irritation. Each of these can be helped through chiropractic care and we would be happy to assess your child for them. Follow the link below to schedule an appointment. Tummy time is an essential part of the growth and development and we want it to be an enjoyable experience for both you and your baby!

Please give us a call if you have any questions!