All babies need tummy time. At birth, a baby’s head is roughly one third of his/her total weight. At a very early age, strength and movement start developing in the head and neck, and gradually progress down the spine and into the hips and legs.
Ever been ‘bopped’ by a newborn baby’s head as they try looking around? While a newborn infant can lift his/her head briefly to look around, it’s perfectly normal for them to use a bobbing motion to do so. Their little neck muscles tire easily at this age. Slowly over time, neck muscles begin to gain strength. By three months of age, through exercise and practice, infants have the muscle strength needed to hold their heads up for longer periods of time — enabling them to explore sights and sounds.
Tummy Time for Enhancing Growth and Development
Putting a baby on his/her tummy encourages them to raise their head, roll over and crawl. During waking hours, it’s beneficial to allow a baby to spend time on his/her tummy on a safe, roomy surface. There is no substitute — ever — for adult supervision during tummy time. When enjoying tummy time, remember to incorporate the ‘3 Ts’:
Place baby on a colorful blanket with different textures and toys to feel. Give a baby a back massage with gentle strokes from neck to feet. As baby gets older, hold your hand behind baby’s feet so he/she can push off, and repeat as he/she moves forward.
Provide calm, attentive talking and eye contact to get baby’s attention. Play “peek-a-boo” using a washcloth and your hands. Sing a favorite song so baby turns his/ her head to find your voice and listen for sounds.
Place colorful, chime ‘rolypoly’ toys in front of baby to encourage looking, listening, reaching and batting. Put toys just out of reach to motivate baby to move forward. Provide a mirror to encourage head lifting and looking.
Benefits of Tummy Time
There are several benefits to providing your baby with tummy time. These include:
- Strengthening the neck, back and shoulder muscles, which are important for later learning.
- Encouraging baby to explore.
- Enhancing overall growth and development.
- Promoting roundness of the back of the head.
This blog is brought to you by the Maternity Centers at Mountain Vista Medical Center and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. Both facilities offer Childbirth and Infant Care Education classes, designed to help expecting moms and dads-to-be better prepare for baby’s arrival and baby’s first few weeks at home. For more information about upcoming classes in Mesa, visit www.mvmedicalcenter.com/classes-events, and for classes in Tempe, visit www.tempestlukeshospital.com/services/womens-care/mother-and-infant-education.