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Your Guide to Start Tummy Time

- By Lucie Evans

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​When Zoe, my second child, was born, I was determined that she would be a happy baby of her tummy time. With Lucas, it really wasn't an easy job. I remember when we put him in his belly. It was almost inevitable that he would soon start crying. It took him a while to get used to short periods. It was difficult, sometimes I even imagined that in his little head he shouted in silence: "Mommy, I hate the tummy time!". With Zoe, the key was simply to start early and gain minutes little by little.

​Of course, let's not forget the advice of your pediatrician and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): your child should always sleep and nap on his or her back. This policy has been key to greatly reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome. Your baby's safety first and foremost: choosing the right materials, how to dress the crib, the fit between the crib and the mattress, among others. But is your newborn missing something if she or he is always lying on his back?

Why tummy time is very important

​Definitely, your little one can have fun and develop if he spends time on his belly while he is awake. Here is a list of the benefits of tummy time for your child:

  • 1
    Learning. Absolutely, your baby is discovering the world with his little body. Being on the tummy stimulates his movements, the work of arms and legs, the ability to hold his head and, most importantly, prepares him for the crawl stage.
  • 2
    Physical growth. Yes, you can think of tummy time as a simple, natural kind of "work out" for a baby.
  • 3
    Prevention. This is something I didn't have in mind when my first child. I didn't know that some babies suffer from flat head syndrome because they are always on their backs. The medical name is plagiocephaly and if you want to know more, you can read this recent scientific paper of Dr. Erin Wenz​.
  • 4
    Digestion. This position eases the relief of gas.
  • 5
    Shared fun. You will have moments to remember in your shared time with your little one lying on your belly, I guarantee you that.

​When to start with tummy time?

Enter your ​Don't worry if at this moment you are thinking "but my child hates tummy time". I'll tell you some tips and secrets. But first it would be good to answer two frequently asked questions: when should you start tummy time and how long should it last?

​When to start? I told you that I made a key change with my daughter Zoe because I began late with Lucas. Start tummy time early, then your baby learns to enjoy being in his belly. Zoe started during her first month and today I really thank for it. Even my friends with small children were surprised by my little girl's ease and mastery. And this is also what the AAP itself recommends: starting early with the newborn. You will see that bit by bit it is easier for your baby to remain on his stomach. That connects with the second question, how much tummy time? The first few days, 3 to 5 minutes at least a couple of times a day will suffice. At the end of the first month, you may be reaching ten minutes and increasing ten by ten each month.

In his first month, it is natural for the newborn to feel uncomfortable in that position and complain. That's why, as in so many other activities with our children, we need patience but persistence. A first tip, I started playing belly to belly with Zoe. It's a warm, secure and loving position. If your baby is more than three months old and doesn't like tummy time, start with that advice little by little. Of course, don't do it when the baby is recently fed.

I hope this information has been useful to you and that your little child says in silence in his little head: "I really love tummy time".

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