Your Guide to Tummy Time

Babies spend so much time on their backs when they are sleeping that it is important to mix it up while Baby is awake in order to increase muscle strength and relieve boredom. Read on to learn the basics of tummy time.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Why Tummy Time?

Babies need time on their tummies to develop strong neck muscles which will help your baby accomplish all of her physical milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking. Your baby will naturally start trying to lift her head to see what is going on around her but she won't be able to hold her head up for long periods of time until she's around 3 or 4 months. Eventually your baby will use this position to roll over, scoot, and support herself with her arms.

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How to Practice Tummy Time

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PhotoAlto/ Veer

When Should Tummy Time Start?

Tummy time should start the day Baby comes home from the hospital, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Only play with Baby on his stomach when he is awake and alert. When you are playing with him, make sure he is on a hard surface, such as the floor. A good time to play with your child in this position is after a diaper change or nap.

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Playing With Baby: Tummy Time

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Fancy Photography/ Veer

How Much Does Baby Need?

In the beginning, play with Baby on his tummy two to three times a day for about three to five minutes each session. As he gets stronger, gradually increase the length of time Baby spends on his stomach.

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Kathryn Gamble

What if Baby Isn't Happy on His Tummy?

Baby may dislike playing on his stomach, but this should not discourage you from giving him some time on the floor.Try to keep him on the floor for three to five minutes but if he refuses, just do it for a minute or two and keep increasing his tummy time slowly. Make tummy time fun with rattle toys and plenty of face time with you. Eventually your baby will get used to being on his tummy and start to enjoy playtime in this position.

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Thayer Allyson Gowdy

What Activities Can I Do with Baby?

To encourage Baby to lift her head, lie on your back with your child on your stomach. Place Baby on her stomach with her head facing yours. Then talk to her. Your baby will try to lift up her head to see your face.

Another fun activity is to place Baby's toys around her on the floor. Then help her reach for and play with the toys.

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Juice Images/Veer

Tummy-Time Safety

When playing with your child in this position, make sure he is on a low, solid surface, so he doesn't risk rolling off of a couch or bed. Putting Baby on the floor on top of a blanket is the best bet for your child's safety. Also, if you have other children or pets, make sure your little one is safely out of harm's way.

Do not leave your baby alone while he is on his tummy as he could get into a position that is dangerous. Baby can get frustrated easily, so lay down on the floor with him and make silly faces or sing songs!

If your baby gets drowsy or falls asleep while on his tummy, switch him to his back for a nap. You should never let him sleep on his stomach because he could suffocate and it lessens the chance of SIDS.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.

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