Baby Tummy Time: Safe Play for Healthy Development—January 19, 2012

While it might sound strange at first, your baby's tummy holds the key for much of his head, neck and shoulder muscle development. That's because encouraging your baby to get down on his tummy and lift his head works those muscles that are later responsible for head and neck control.

Magdalena Oledzka, pediatric physical therapist for Hospital for Special Surgery in New York warns that "babies who don't spend time on their bellies have been shown in the research to achieve their developmental milestones at later time (as compared to babies who spend time in prone position (belly time), and they are at higher risk to develop head flattening in the back of their heads and may develop torticollis secondary to the flattening (tilted appearance of the head)."

Baby tummy time is most important around the two-to-four month range. That's when your baby's neck muscles are strengthened to the point where he has some beginning control and can lift his head off of the ground. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies get three to five minutes of baby tummy time at least two or three times each day.


Belly bonding. "If baby can tolerate being positioned on their belly on mommy's chest or another incline such as a nursing pillow (boppy pillow) for 45-60 seconds before getting upset, that is a great place to start," says Oledzka. Your baby loves to look at human faces, so he'll lift up his head to check out one of the most familiar faces.

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