Ahhh, tummy time. We’ve all heard of it, and we all know that most babies hate it. And after listening to your sweet baby grizzling and crying out of frustration, you’ll probably find yourself wonder how much tummy time should your baby do every day?
Is tummy time essential, or is it just something that we’ve been told to do for years and now it’s just the “done thing?”
Why Tummy Time Is Essential For Babies
As frustrating as it may be, tummy time is essential for infant development.
Babies spend a lot of time on their back and while this is the AAP recommended sleeping position to help reduce the risk of SIDS, if a baby spends too much time laying on their back they can end up with a delay in motor development and a flat head, which is known as plagiocephaly.
When a baby spends time on their tummy, they’re able to practice things like lifting their head against the force of gravity, bearing weight on their arms, move from side to side and gain strength in the muscles in their upper body.
All of this movement helps to prepare your baby for physical milestones like rolling over, sitting, and walking (and even getting your baby ready to swim someday!)
When Should A Baby Start Tummy Time?
When I first bought my little one home from the hospital, I remember thinking that tummy time was something that we wouldn’t need to start until he was at least a few months old.
However, when I brought this up to my son’s pediatrician, I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that tummy time start as soon as a baby arrives home from the hospital.
How Much Tummy Time Should Your Baby Do Every Day?
The amount of tummy time a baby should be doing varies depending on age.
Newborns should be doing 3-5 minutes of tummy tie 2-3 times per day
Once your baby starts to show a liking for tummy time, you can increase the amount until he or she starts to show signs that they’ve had enough
By the time baby is 3-4 months old, you should be aiming for at least 20-30 minutes of tummy time every day. Bear in mind, this is the minimum recommended amount – try to spend as much waking time as possible doing tummy time.
Is there Too Much Tummy Time?
First of all – most babies hate tummy time. So for most parents, the concern is getting enough tummy time, not too much.
However, according to the National Institutes of Health, a good number to shoot for newborns and very young infants is 2-3 tummy sessions per day of 3-5 minutes each.
As your baby strengthens and starts to enjoy tummy time, you can increase the length of the session.
While tummy time is essential for babies, it’s important that you follow some important tummy time safety guidelines.
- Only do tummy time when your baby is awake
- Make sure baby is always supervised during tummy time
- Lay baby down on a soft, flat but firm surface, away from potential hazards like staircases
Help! My Baby Hates Tummy Time!
What should you do if your baby hates tummy time?
The first thing I want to do is let you know that you’re definitely not alone. My son absolutely hated tummy time at first, and I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to get him to do more than 10 seconds.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make tummy time more enjoyable for your baby.
The first thing I recommend is to get down at eye level with your baby and and engage with him or her. This will not only make tummy time more interesting for your baby, it helps to increase bonding.
Next, I recommend purchasing a tummy time mat. One of my favorite features of a tummy time mat is the small prop pillow which helps to provide some extra support for baby, so their not lying face down the entire time.
Additionally, tummy time mats come with fun, interactive features such as mirrors and teethers. This is actually something your baby needs, instead of these common baby items you DON’T need!
Finally, try not to force too much tummy time. Start slowly with just a minute or so once or twice a day, and gradually build up over time. Make tummy time a fun part of your routine where you place baby on their tummy time mat, play some music and get down and interact together.
Before you know it, your baby will start giggling and cooing during tummy time and actually start enjoying their mini workout session.