All About Tummy Time: When to Start and Tips for Safety

All About Tummy Time: When to Start and Tips for Safety

December 31, 2020

Wondering when to start tummy time and how to go about it? Here are answers to the top questions about tummy time:

What Is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is daily time your baby spends on their stomach playing in order to build their muscles. This is an important precursor to milestones like reaching, rolling, and crawling.

Sleeping on the back is essential for infant safety, and it’s one of the 3 main recommendations in the ABCs of safe sleep for prevention of SIDS. Daytime tummy time is the best way to help babies build motor skills safely.

Why Should Babies Have Tummy Time?

  • Stronger muscles
    • When on their stomach, your baby is forced to engage different muscles to look up and around. Tummy time is a workout that focuses on the muscles on the neck, shoulders, arms, and trunk.
  • Better sleep!
    • A study found that more tummy time may actually improve infant sleep! By increasing your baby’s physical activity time, they can be more likely to sleep deeply when the time comes. Can we say, “Hallelujah!” 
Baby mirror tummy time

When Should I Start Tummy Time?

According to the AAP, tummy time can start right away! They recommend you start as soon as the first day home from the hospital. You can also do adjusted tummy time for newborns by laying your baby flat on your stomach or holding them up in an airplane position. 

How Long Should My Baby Be on Their Tummy?

Experts recommend starting in small increments of 3-5 minutes at a time, several times a day, and increasing gradually. As you give your baby this practice, over time they will develop stronger muscles and be able to play on their tummy for longer periods of time.

Important Safety Tips for Tummy Time

Use appropriate objects for support and play

Put down a flat blanket or towel on the ground to place your baby on. Other toys placed around your baby encourage them to lift their head and reach. You can roll a blanket tightly to place under the infant’s chest to help them as they build muscles. Just as with crib sleep time, don’t put any soft objects or pillows near your baby’s face, as this can cause a risk of suffocation.

Always supervise your baby!

Make sure to never leave your baby to play alone. If your baby is enjoying tummy time play with an older sibling, make sure to monitor their play. Supervision is important to make sure they don’t get into a position where it’s difficult to breathe.

tummy time sibling

Make sure your baby is alert 

Your baby should only have tummy time when awake and alert so they can actively use and strengthen their muscles. In addition, falling asleep on their stomach can pose a safety risk. A good time to initiate tummy time with your little one is after naps or diaper changes. Remember that your baby should have tummy time on the floor, not in their crib or changing table. 

Remember, “back to sleep”

It’s important to practice “back to sleep, tummy to play”. Make sure that for nighttime sleep and all naps, you place your baby on their back only. If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, shift them to their back before putting them to bed in their crib. 

Watch for rolling development

Within months, your baby will begin to develop the muscles needed to push up and then tip over onto their back. Your baby will later begin to roll at night from back to stomach, at around 4-6 months. It is still important to put your baby down for sleep on their back, but if they roll onto their stomach on their own, it is okay and they don’t need to be turned over.

Babies who learn to roll at night are still able to be in the Magic Sleepsuit until they start to roll while in the Sleepsuit. When your baby is able to roll over at night while in the Magic Sleepsuit, it is time to transition from the Sleepsuit to a Dream Sack to allow more movement.