Getting your baby used to tummy time – Part 1

The most important thing you need to know as a parent is that tummy time doesn’t just mean placing your baby on its tummy on a flat surface. For newborns, tummy time also includes:

  • cradling your baby on its tummy (“Fliegergriff”),
  • carrying your baby over your shoulder,
  • placing your baby tummy-down on your chest.

All of these positions simulate the tummy position and so help strengthen your baby’s neck and upper body muscles and promote brain development.

When advising parents with newborn children, this practice focuses on placing babies on their tummies during the day while supervised.

Baby on its tummy - tummy time
How you can help make tummy time easier and more enjoyable for your baby (Picture Credits: ©O_Lypa / Getty Images)
Parents are often told how important it is for their babies to spend time on their tummies, but how should you actually go about it when every attempt to place your baby in the tummy position meets with fierce opposition?

What I want to do today is give you a few insights into:

  • why placing your baby on its tummy is so important for its development, and
  • how you can help make tummy time easier and more enjoyable for your baby.

Why is tummy time so important for babies?

Placing your baby on its tummy helps strengthen its neck, shoulder, arm and back muscles. As it lifts its head and stretches backwards, it is also developing its neck and lower back, resulting in greater mobility and better balance.

Placing your baby on its tummy also helps prevent flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly) in which one side of the skull becomes flattened or misshapen. In addition, babies in the tummy position discover the world from a completely different perspective. This, in turn, has a positive effect on brain development.

Since the recognition of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and the introduction of safe sleeping guidelines for babies in the 1990s, the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has fallen and it remains important for babies to be placed on their backs to sleep.

Unfortunately, this advice has also led to confusion and uncertainty among parents, who are now unsure as to whether their babies should ever be placed on their tummies. As a result, babies are being placed on their tummies less and less, even when they are awake and supervised. However, all you and your baby need to do is follow this simple rule: “Back to sleep, tummy to play”.