Exercise does a body good, no matter what age! Your little one won’t be lifting weights or running laps anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need proper exercise! Between 0-3 months old, he can actually get a good dose of his daily exercise just by lying on his tummy (jealous!).
By now, you’ve probably heard the term Tummy Time and have been told how important it is for your baby. But do you know why it is so important? During his first 3 months, he is developing the strength and muscles to raise his head, arch his body, and flex his legs.1 This movement will prepare him to begin exploring the world around him in no time. Tummy time helps your baby develop these muscles by encouraging him to lift his head to look around or lift his arms and legs off of the floor. It also builds the foundational muscles needed to sit up, crawl and walk.2,3
What are some tips for doing tummy time with my 0- to 3-month-old baby?
- Start doing tummy time while doing kangaroo care. You can start doing tummy time at birth. Just lay your baby on top of your chest, skin to skin, and then talk to him lovingly. He will naturally try to follow your voice by lifting his head to look at you.
- Do tummy time in a variety of soft, safe places. When he gets comfortable doing tummy time on your chest, move him to new locations to build his skill. Start by moving his tummy time practice from on top of your chest to over your knees. When he gets comfortable with that, move him to a soft, padded area on the floor.3
- Catch his attention with interesting objects. Unbreakable mirrors and brightly colored toys will draw his attention and encourage him to lift his head! Once you have his attention, slowly move the object from one side of his head to the other to encourage him to follow it with his gaze.
- Keep an eye out for exhaustion. When you start out, be sure to keep your baby’s tummy time to no more than five minutes before gradually lengthening the time as he gets stronger. While it is important to do tummy time frequently, it can be a very physically demanding exercise for your newborn and may exhaust him quickly. Stop playing early if he starts to show signs of being tired, having discomfort, or losing interest.2,3
1 Maryland State Department of Education (2010). Healthy Beginnings: Supporting Development and Learning from Birth through Three Years of Age.
2 Fries, W. C. Tummy Time for Your Newborn. WebMD. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/sleep-naps-12/tummy-time.
3 Hoecker, J. L. What’s the Importance of Tummy Time for a Baby? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tummy-time/expert-answers/faq-20057755.