From the time your baby is born, a good habit to get into is to include some tummy time throughout the day. This entails placing her on her tummy while you watch carefully. At first, your newborn will not be able to do anything other than wiggle in this position, but within a few months, tummy time will help her gain strength and meet milestones.
Newborn Tummy Time
Start introducing your baby to tummy time by placing him across your lap for a few minutes, a few times per day. This can help get him used to being on his tummy. Once he is able to lift his head, which happens between 2 and 3 months of age, place him on a blanket on the floor. Give your baby about 20 minutes of tummy time per day once he is between 3 and 4 months old to help him develop neck and upper-body strength.
Older Baby Moves
As your baby grows and gains more strength, tummy time helps her to practice skills, such as pushing up on her arms and crawling. It can also help prevent positional plagiocephaly, which is a flattening of the back of the skull that can occur when your baby spends too much time on her back. When she is between 4 and 6 months old, she will begin to roll over from front to back and then from back to front, so daily tummy time may tend to happen more spontaneously.
Many babies do not like being placed on their tummies. If your baby cries when you lay him on his stomach, try laying on the floor in front of him so he can see you easily. You can also distract him and encourage him to raise his head and chest by placing a toy in front of him, just outside his reach. Placing several toys around him will encourage him to look in different directions. Remember to keep sessions short, especially for a very young baby, as holding his head up is tiring and difficult at first.
Never leave your young baby on her stomach unattended. To do so can raise her risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. When you place her in her crib, put her on her back or, if your pediatrician recommends it, on her side. If your baby is not able to lift her head and chest by the time she is 3 months old, mention it to her pediatrician.