Dr. Gellner: Everyone tells new parents to do tummy time with their babies, but what exactly is tummy time, how do you do it right, and why is it such a big deal? I'll answer those questions for you today on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.
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Dr. Gellner: Tummy time is just what it sounds like, having your baby on their tummies while they're awake. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending back to sleep to prevent SIDS, babies don't spend as much time on their tummies, and it's actually something really important for their development.
Tummy time helps your baby develop the neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to meet their milestones, including rolling over and eventually crawling. It may also help prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome or positional plagiocephaly, in doctor terms, and neck twisting, which is positional torticollis.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play. Parents often wonder when to start this and how much their babies need. Tummy time can begin as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. Your baby should work up to an hour of tummy time per day, by three months of age. Aim for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.
An easy way to do tummy time is for you to lie down on the bed and place your baby on your chest so that you're face-to-face. This position is good for snuggling too. You can also place your baby face down across your lap to burp or soothe them. A hand on your baby's bottom will help steady and calm them. You can also place your baby on their tummy after diapering or bathing. Your baby will be able to get used to tummy time as part of their daily routine.
Parents tell me their baby doesn't like to be on their tummy, but it's really important to do. So don't get discouraged if your little one fusses. Every bit of tummy time with your baby makes a big difference. If you have done plenty of tummy time with your baby but are concerned they're not meeting their milestones, bring your concerns to your baby's pediatrician, and always remember back to sleep, tummy to play.
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