In this guide you will find everything you need to know about Tummy Time Milestones, with lots of practical advise and fun Tummy Time Activities to do at home.
As a brand new parent, tummy time may be a new concept to you. And that’s ok! But the truth is that tummy time will help your baby hit important milestones along the road to toddler-dome. So let’s get started now!
Tummy time is just what it sounds like: it’s the time that your baby spends on his or her tummy. And though your baby may be more comfortable on his bottom than his belly, it’s important to encourage your little peanut from day-one to get some belly action.
We know that seems counterintuitive, because everyone’s been telling you the same thing, “Make sure your baby sleeps on his back!”
And the Back to Sleep Campaign is completely valid. We want to keep your baby healthy and safe. When he’s unsupervised and asleep, he should stay on his back. But before mothers were on sleeping patrol and rolling their babies onto their backs in the middle of the night, most babies slept comfortably on their (dare we say it) bellies.
And just a few minutes of tummy time each day will help your baby improve gross motor skills avoiding flat head syndrome along with other benefits (such as those listed in “Tummy Time 101”). Implementing tummy time will get your baby on a shortcut to rolling over, crawling, playing, and other all-star baby moments. Check out this article on gross motor skills and helping your baby hit important milestones!
A Tummy Time How To
So how do you do tummy time? According to an article on WebMD, you have to keep the process simple. Place your baby on a blanket or mat while he or she is awake. Use toys and other items to engage your baby to wiggle and scoot.
Another tool that we love is the tummy time pillow. If your baby seems to be in a never-ending faceplant during tummy time, place a pillow under your baby’s body with his arms in front of him. He’ll have more support and feel more comfortable while he’s tummy-side down.
Do you know when you can start tummy time? Now! Tummy time for newborns is completely safe in small doses. Just a few minutes of belly action will get your baby used to lying belly-down, so you’ll avoid the dreaded tummy time tears down the road.
Later on, as your baby gets stronger, you can spend up to 60 minutes doing tummy time every day. However, don’t keep them there if they are uncomfortable or crying. If your baby is crying that usually means that he is worn out and could use a break from tummy time.
Depending on your baby’s age and his willingness to stay tummy down, there are several tummy time activities and positions you can try. You’ll find a great resource with more specific tummy time tips here. And have no fear! If you’re nervous about pushing your baby too far, read up on some do’s and don’ts to see what’s best for your little one.
You can also learn about more fun activities to do with your baby by reading our Baby & Toddler Learning Activities!
Making Progress with Milestones
We’ve all had that fear. Will my baby reach the right milestones in time? Well, tummy time can give you a bit of security.
As you practice tummy time, your baby will learn to develop more strength in his arms and legs and better motor skills. He’ll move faster towards that first big milestone: rolling over.
This hurdle should be reached by the 6 or 7 month mark, but could come much sooner. At that point, you may even be able to let your baby sleep belly-side down (but we recommend consulting with your doctor about that one).
And the baby steps up to that point will come sooner than you know it too! For example, your little one will start holding his head up at around two months, and he’ll continue to strengthen his neck and shoulder muscles as you continue practicing tummy time!
Turns Head to the Side
Development Milestone emerges from age 0 to 2 months.
Your sweet baby can lie on his belly comfortably, with his head turned to the side. His chubby cheeks make for a perfect cushion as he cozies up in a crib or on a blanket.
Try encouraging your baby to move his head to the side by talking to him or making sounds with his toys.
Briefly Lifts Head Up
Development Milestone emerges from age 0 to 2 months.
Now he’s starting to get curious! Your baby will briefly lift his head to see more of his bright, new world. Help your baby reach up his head with bright toys and fun noises. Spark his curiosity to look up, up, up!
Keeps That Head Up
Development Milestone emerges from age 0 to 3 months.
Stronger muscles help your baby to hold that head up for more than a quick second. At this stage, he can raise his head to a forty-five degree angle and spend a few seconds enjoying the view.
Stretches Those Legs
Development Milestone emerges from age 1 to 3 months.
It’s time to stretch those legs and get moving! Your baby is breaking free of his tightly wound cuddle to extend his chubby legs. He’s ready to move his legs and wiggle those toes!
You can watch your baby start to do this when he’s playing or interacting with others. Freeing those legs will come naturally as he becomes more adventurous to reach for toys, snacks, or his sister’s pigtails.
Turns Head from Side to Side
Development Milestone emerges from age 2 to 3 months.
Look around, look around! Baby is turning his head left, right, and left again! Use different toys like jingles or rattles and make sounds like coos to help your baby practice turning his head from side to side.
Holds Chest Up
Development Milestone emerges from age 2 to 4 months.
Your baby uses his forearms and arms to hold up his body and puff out that chest! He is gaining the strength to support his own weight. Again, this milestone will happen naturally as your baby continues to play more and more.
Holds Head Up Higher
Development Milestone emerges from age 3 to 5 months.
Now your baby can hold up his head a bit higher. Instead of the forty-five degree angle that he could do before, he can now lift his head up ninety degrees off the floor. Encourage your baby to reach for new toys from Mommy or Daddy.
Puts Weight on Hands
Development Milestone emerges from age 4 to 6 months.
Instead of having to use his forearms to show off his six pack, baby can use his hands alone to hold up his chest. He has more strength to lift himself off the ground and straighten out his arms.
To see how your baby’s progress with this milestone, try holding a toy just a pinch out of reach. See if he’ll flex out his arms to reach upward.
Puts Weight on One Hand
Development Milestone emerges from age 6 to 8 months.
Have you ever seen a baby do one-handed pushups? Well, maybe that’s a stretch, but this is as close as you’ll get. Your baby can now support himself on one hand while he reaches with the other.
We hope that now you’ve got a better understanding of tummy time and the related milestones. Have a friend with an infant that could benefit from our post? Share our post and get the word out about tummy time.
What if your Baby Hates Tummy Time?
If your baby absolutely despises tummy time, you are not alone. There are different techniques that you can try to make the process more enjoyable for both of you. Afterall, a happy baby is a happy parent!
Place your baby on your chest and make tummy time a fun bonding experience. Try to massage your baby and make him comfortable whenever he’s on his belly. If you’re still struggling, try these useful articles at mamaot.com and whattoexpect.com.
We hope that now you’ve got a better understanding of tummy time and the related milestones. Have a friend with an infant that could benefit from our post? Share our post and get the word out about tummy time!
Ask our Expert about Tummy Time
Susan Klemm is a Licensed Occupational Therapist and founder of Carolina Kinder Development.
Susan received her M.S. in Occupational Therapy from the University of North Carolina in 1996. In 2006 she founded Carolina Kinder Development to offer a holistic approach to the head shape and developmental needs of infants through the early years. Therapists come from other states for intensive training at the clinic to learn the approach.
Susan is actively contributing to the field through research papers and seminars. She has a personal interest in children, poverty, neglect, and abuse in Mecklenburg County. When not working, Susan can be found at church, pilates, gyrokinesis, out in nature, or practicing the violin in her closet.
Susan is ready to answer your questions about Tummy Time, just post your question in the comment section below.