Your newborn baby may appear needy, but in reality, they don’t need anything more than the basics: the need to be fed, the need to sleep, the need to be stimulated, the need for comfort, and the need for love and affection.
And then there’s also a need for newborn tummy time.
At this point, you may be wondering what tummy time is and why you need to add it to your already full parenting schedule. However, the advantages of doing tummy time outweigh all the possible objections.
Tummy time is not just a position or an activity that you occasionally do with your baby. It should be done regularly and become part of your baby’s daily care routine. Doing so will unlock many benefits that will affect the health and well-being of your newborn baby.
What is tummy time?
Basically, tummy time means putting your baby on their stomach when they are awake and alert. Because a newborn baby spends a lot of time during the day – as long as 14-17 hours – sleeping on their backs, they should be on their tummies when they play and start discovering the world.
Before we proceed, let’s go over some tummy time tips.
A Few Tummy Time Tips to Do it Safely
It is crucial to note that your baby should be really awake when doing tummy time. Be wary of the time when they seem awake but are actually drowsy as they may fall asleep in this position, which is unsafe.
The best time to put your baby on their stomach is moments after waking up from a nap, when they are fully conscious. Leave them in this position for a few minutes, the duration of which you can gradually increase as your baby grows older.
It is also a good idea to do a few minutes of tummy time several times a day on a flat, firm surface with some muslin blankets or on the floor with a soft play mat. Refrain from letting your baby do tummy time after feeding as it may cause a spit-up. And remember: never leave your baby unsupervised!
We have already established what tummy time basically is, but why does your baby need to do it?
5 Benefits of Newborn Tummy Time
1. Tummy time helps build muscle strength.
The primary reason why a newborn baby needs to have tummy time is because it strengthens their core muscles, particularly their neck, shoulders, arms, and upper body. These are muscles critical for development; however, when a baby spends most of their time lying down, these muscles get little to no exercise.
With tummy time, your baby learns to lift their head, strengthening their neck muscles. Gradually, with your encouragement, they will learn to reach out and move toward your or an interesting toy’s direction, strengthening the muscles of their arms, shoulders, and upper torso.
2. Tummy time boosts development and helps a baby achieve their milestones.
Tummy time can also help your baby achieve their milestones! With stronger muscles and a better control of their body movements, your baby will learn how to roll over, sit, and crawl. Without tummy time, there may be some delays in following these developmental milestones.
Aside from strength and control, tummy time also helps with the development of your baby’s motor skills, both fine and gross. Also, with tummy time activities using supplies like a plush toy, an unbreakable mirror, and a textured towel, you are also stimulating your baby’s senses.
3. Tummy time helps prevent the flathead syndrome.
Flat head syndrome or “plagiocephaly” refers to the condition where a baby’s skull develops a flat spot at the back. This is typically caused by the newborn baby spending too much time in one position, particularly lying down on a flat surface on their back.
To reduce the risk of your baby developing a flat head, doing regular tummy time is a great help. Exposing your newborn to different positions, like lying on their stomach, prevents prolonged pressure on one area of the head, in the process preventing skull deformities.
4. Tummy time enables your baby to view the world from a new perspective.
Spending too much time in one position does not only affect your newborn baby’s physical development but also limits their imagination! When a baby spends most of their time on their back, they only get to see one thing: the ceiling! If you want to encourage your baby to learn about the world, then you have to let them see it.
Allotting time for regular newborn tummy time gives your baby a chance to see the world from a different perspective. With this, they are able to fully explore their surroundings, stimulating their imagination. This activity also helps develop their mental and cognitive skills.
5. Tummy time is bonding time!
Finally, if you are not yet convinced, tummy time is also a brilliant way to bond with your newborn baby. While tummy time is vital in helping with the development of your baby’s body and thinking, it is an undeniably great way to play with your baby, too!
When your baby does tummy time, you can lie down on the space next to them to see the world from the same perspective. You may also use toys and soft rattles to engage with your baby. You can also lay your baby down directly on your chest and use the same moment for some skin-to-skin contact!
The significance of newborn tummy time to your baby’s health and well-being is definitely unquestionable. It may come with some initial objections, and your baby may not even enjoy it the first time they do it.
However, just like a workout, your baby will gradually adjust, which means their muscles are getting stronger and they are gaining better control of their movements. Don’t give up because your baby shouldn’t miss out on the benefits of tummy time!