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Tummy time is something every new parent has probably heard of, but that doesn’t mean they know what to do. What is tummy time, and how long should you do tummy time with your newborn? When should you start? How long should a single tummy time session last? Tummy time is important, and having these answers can help your baby develop.

What Is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is simple: It’s placing your baby on their stomach to play, usually on a receiving blanket or something similar. Tummy time is essential as it helps to teach your baby to lift their head, and gets them ready for later activities such as sitting up and crawling. Tummy time should always be supervised, make sure to follow safe sleep guidelines and never put a newborn down to sleep on their tummy. Back is best for sleeping, while tummy time is best on their stomach. They spend a lot of time on their backs sleeping, which means they need time to work the opposing muscles, as well. Do not leave your baby alone during tummy time.

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Start Sooner Rather than Later

You can start tummy time as soon as you arrive home from the hospital. Starting sooner is better, so try it out as early as you feel comfortable. Even a few minutes at a time can be beneficial.

 

Begin With a Few Minutes

When you first start practicing tummy time with your baby, only go for a few minutes. Generally, between three and five minutes to start is a good goal.  As your baby gets older, you can stretch this time. Your little one will let you know when they are done. By the time their muscles have developed, and they no longer need tummy time, they may be doing up to 20 minutes in a single session.

How to Do Tummy Time

Lay down a blanket and put your baby tummy-down on top of it, clearing a small area around them. Ideally, you will do this soon after a nap ends or after you have changed their diaper. You can put their favorite toys around them to play with. You can play with them and the toys. Use a mirror so that your baby can see themselves, or use cards with geometric shapes or animals to hold their attention.

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Use a Nursing Pillow

Another method that works different muscles is to take a nursing pillow, cover it with burp cloths, and drape your baby over the nursing pillow, inside the curve of the “C” with their arms and shoulders propped up on the pillow. Their center of gravity should be back, so they don’t fall head-first off the pillow. They won’t have the neck muscles yet to lift their head, but this gives them a chance to look around and observe the world.

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