Tummy time: Why is it important for newborns?

If you are not sure about what tummy time is for infants, here is a guide explaining it, its importance and when to start doing it.
Give your baby some tummy time every day! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Manasvi Jain Updated: 9 Aug 2023, 11:47 am IST
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Dear parents, have you ever wondered why it seems like your baby has a mysterious aversion to being on their tummy? Well, fear not, because we’re about to tell you about the importance of tummy time for your little one’s development. Discover how this seemingly simple activity can have a big impact on your baby’s muscles, comfort and even their adorable little head. So, let’s explore the significance of tummy time and why it is an essential part of your baby’s early development.

What is tummy time for newborns?

As a parent, you might be familiar with the significance of giving your baby tummy time for their developmental progress. Tummy time is the practice of placing your baby on their stomach while they are awake and under your supervision. This simple activity offers numerous benefits and plays a crucial role in promoting your baby’s physical and cognitive growth.

tummy time
Know why tummy time is important for your newborn. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Importance of tummy time for babies

1. Strengthening muscles

“Tummy time provides an excellent opportunity for your baby to strengthen their neck, shoulder, and back muscles,” says Dr Manish Malik, Director and Head – NeonataI Intensive Care Unit, Paediatrics (Ped), Neonatology, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket. He further explains that as babies lift their head and body against gravity, these muscles are engaged, helping to develop essential motor skills. Regular tummy time sessions contribute to the gradual improvement of muscle strength and control, laying a foundation for future milestones such as rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking.

2. Tummy time reduces discomfort and gas

Another benefit of tummy time is its ability to alleviate discomfort caused by gas and colic (abdominal pain caused by gas). “When your baby lies on their tummy, the gentle pressure on their abdomen can help expel trapped gas, reducing the chances of colic and fussiness,” says Dr Malik. The natural movement and positioning during tummy time promote healthy digestion and can provide relief for your little one.

tummy time to expel gas
Tummy time also helps to expel trapped gas in your baby’s stomach. Adobe Stock

3. Promotes healthy head shape

Tummy time also plays a vital role in preventing the development of flat spots on your baby’s head. As infants spend a significant amount of time lying on their back, there is a risk of the back of the head becoming flattened. By incorporating tummy time into your baby’s routine, you relieve the pressure on the back of their head and encourage them to move their head from side to side. According to Dr Malik this helps promote a more rounded head shape and reduces the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly.

When to start tummy time for baby?

Dr Malik advises to begin tummy time within a few weeks of birth, starting with short durations of 1-2 minutes and gradually increasing the time as your baby grows. By around 5-6 months of age, your baby will have developed enough strength and control to explore other positions independently. It is essential to provide constant supervision for your baby during tummy time to guarantee their well-being.

What to do if your baby hates tummy time?

Some babies may initially resist or dislike tummy time. If your baby finds it challenging, start with short sessions and gradually increase the time as they become more comfortable. Use engaging toys that move or make noise to capture their attention and make the experience more enjoyable. However, never force your baby to engage in tummy time if they are truly upset or distressed. If they continue to show resistance, you can try placing them on your chest or lap in a prone position, which still provides similar benefits as tummy time on a mat or bed.

tummy time
If your baby hates tummy time, lay them on your chest.

Tummy time is a crucial aspect of your baby’s early development. With consistent tummy time sessions, you are setting the stage for your baby’s physical and cognitive growth, providing them with a strong foundation for future milestones.

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About the Author

Manasvi Jain is a professional writer with a keen interest in spreading awareness about various health and wellness issues through her articles. She writes well researched articles by connecting with various doctors and health experts. ...Read More

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