There are many benefits of tummy time with baby, but you may be wondering, “How important is tummy time?” Not only is it crucial to their overall development, but it's a great way for you and your little one to bond as well!
Doctor's extol the benefits of tummy time. But, the first time you turn your tiny newborn onto their tummy and hear their fussy cries, you may wonder... do we really have to do this? Well, not only is tummy time crucial to early development, it can be a great time for play and bonding too.
Below, we explore the definition of tummy time, tummy time importance, and tummy time mats you and your baby will love.
Let’s dive in!
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is intentional, supervised playtime in which your baby spends time on his or her tummy while awake. According to Occupational Therapists, tummy time not only strengthens your baby’s neck, back, and arm muscles, but it also supports the development of higher level gross motor skills (like rolling, crawling, and walking), hand skills (developing the muscles in the arches of the hands as baby bears weight on them), visual skills (teaching the eyes to work together), and even speech and feeding skills (strengthening the neck which supports the jaw for talking and eating).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tummy time should begin when your baby is a newborn. It is recommended to start by placing your little one belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes at a time so they can get accustomed to the position. Ideally, you want to do tummy time activities when they’re most awake and alert, such as after a diaper change or nap (but not immediately following a feeding). Lack of tummy time can not only affect how long it takes for your little one to master such basic skills as lifting their head and turning over, it may also have an impact on physical milestones, such as sitting, crawling, and walking.
The Importance of Tummy Time
When babies spend time on their tummies, it takes weight off the back of their heads and is important for prevention of certain conditions, such as Plagiocephaly or Torticollis.
Plagiocephaly is most commonly known as “flat head syndrome,” and is characterized by flat spots on a baby’s head. Typically, this occurs is when little ones stay in one position for an extended period. Because newborns spend most of the day asleep on their backs, tummy time is instrumental in preventing flat areas. On the other hand, Torticollis is a condition that is characterized by a stiffness of the neck that causes the head to tilt to one side, making it difficult for a baby to turn their head from side to side. It has a wide variety of causes, but one of the primary forms of both prevention and treatment is tummy time! When your baby is on their tummy, they are able to get a different perspective of their environment, encouraging them to rotate their head to look around at different toys, sounds, or people around them.
Furthermore, as your little one is discovering the world around them during tummy time, they are developing cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Laying down next to your little one during tummy time can strengthen their early bonding skills and attachment. It is a great opportunity to engage with your child through speaking, reading, singing, and playing. Allowing your little one to explore and listen to the world around them does wonders for their little minds and is another great reason why tummy time is important.
Through incorporating stimulating tummy time toys and mats, you are helping them to learn independence skills and encouraging sensory development.
Tummy Time Mats
Because little ones sometimes have difficulty warming up to the idea of tummy time, it is helpful to choose a play mat that engages and entertains, to encourage tear-free tummy time play.
Make tummy time fun with our Peek & Play Tummy Time Activity Mat™ that includes a padded bolster pillow that provides perfect tummy time support, along with plush play pals and a large peek n’ see mirror to encourage lifting, reaching, and grabbing. It is the perfect start to strengthening baby’s arm, neck, and tummy muscles. Also, foam mats can create a comfortable surface of babies practicing tummy time, learning to roll, and crawling. You can set up the cushioned foam mat on any flat surface, where your little one will enjoy tummy time with their favorite toys. Our Soft Foam Puzzle Mat™ is an extra thick foam mat that creates a safe, soft place for children to play. The textured pieces provide early sensory interaction and the pop-out puzzle shapes encourage grow-with-me play. The Deluxe Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat™ and the Take & Play Safari Activity Gym & Play Mat™ are other fun options for tummy time play as well!