As a new or prospective parent, you’ve probably heard about tummy time from a physician, loved one or through any number of different sources.
Although many people know what the term means, they may not be aware of just how important it is for infants or how to maximize the benefits.
Jennifer Lewis, a senior physical therapist at Tidelands Health Pediatric Rehabilitation Services at Azalea Lakes, says tummy time is vital to a baby’s development because it helps babies build their neck and upper body strength, which they need to be able to reach milestones such as lifting their heads and rolling over.
“It’s like a little workout for babies to be on their bellies because they’re having to push into extensions,” she says. “And babies in general want to be curled up into a ball because that’s how they were in the mommy’s belly.”
Inadequate tummy time can delay the development of certain motor skills or lead to plagiocephaly, which is when a baby’s skull becomes flattened on one side.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be put on their stomachs for three to five minutes at a time two to three times a day, eventually working up to a total of 60 minutes a day.
“We always tell our parents here when they begin tummy time to work in short amounts of time, but to do it frequently every day,” Lewis says.