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Babies and Tummy Time

By Dr. Judith Froehlich

As parents are aware, infants should no longer sleep on the stomach due to the increase risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  However, tummy time is critical for the development of upper body strength and head control of the baby.  Having time off the back of the head also helps prevent flattening of the babies head and abnormal head shape known as plagiocephaly.  

Tummy time should start in the newborn period.  Your infant should spend time on the tummy only while awake and must be supervised.  In the newborn period when a baby can not lift their head, tummy time can be accomplished by laying the baby on your chest, placing the baby over your leg, or putting a rolled towel under the chest.  

After three months you infant should be able to prop up on their forearms; if not, use a Boppy pillow or rolled up towel.  Encourage weight shifting and reaching by placing mirrors and toys out of their reach to allow free movement.  After six months of age your goal is to develop full body strength.  This can be done by lifting the baby up supporting only the hips and waist and making airplane movements. 

Not all infants enjoy tummy time; however doing short increments of time, such as 3-5 minutes several times a day early in your child’s development will accomplish the desired goals.

Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health & Infant Care

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