Posted: Apr 19, 2012 10:08 PM
Tummy time is very important for babies for a variety of reasons. It encourages the motor development and muscle strength necessary to reach other milestones as your little one gets older. Learn more about the benefits and importance of tummy time.

Avoid flat head

Babies should always sleep on their backs in order to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, some babies can develop a flat head from spending too much time on their backs.

Therefore, to help avoid or treat this temporary condition (called positional plagiocephaly), more time on the tummy while awake is essential.

Enhance motor development

Babies who spend less time on their stomachs are also more inclined to have development delays in areas such as rolling over, sitting up and crawling. Tummy time is also a fun way to spend time with your baby. It encourages eye contact, strengthens neck muscles and improves upper body strength.

Tummy time basics

Start tummy time when your little one is about two months old and able to lift his or her head. You can do tummy time before this age, but the baby won't benefit much before he or she can lift his or her head. Begin with very short periods of tummy time -- about three minutes per session, two or three times each day.

If your baby hates the idea of lying on his or her tummy on a mat, start by lying on your back and laying your baby on his or her tummy on your chest. Your child will lift his or her head using his or her arms to try to see your face. After a few days, switch over to a play mat or rug on the floor with age-appropriate toys nearby. Get down on the floor next to your baby and sing or talk to him or her. If your baby continues to detest tummy time, don't stress about it. Wait a few weeks or until he or she is three months old and try again.

Place a toy just out of your baby's reach during tummy time to get him or her to try to reach for the toy. You can also place several toys in a circle around the baby. Reaching to the different spots will help your child to develop the muscles he or she'll need to roll over, scoot and eventually crawl.

More about baby development

5 Things you should know about your newborn's body
Baby development: The importance of crawling
Fun ways to chronicle your baby's development