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Intermountain Health Experts Say Tummy Time Is Important for Baby’s Development

Tummy time helps babies work their core abdominal muscles, develop motor skills, and better balance, says Intermountain Health pediatricians

(PRUnderground) August 31st, 2023

To help babies develop strong muscles and good motor skills, Intermountain Health pediatric experts recommend babies spend time on their tummies when they are awake.

“When babies are on their tummy, they start trying to lift their neck, move their arms and legs and work their core abdominal muscles, which helps them develop motor skills and better balance,” says Peter Lindgren, MD, a pediatrician with Intermountain Medical Group.

Studies show only 30 percent of parents follow these recommendations. Dr. Lindgren suggests parents spend three to five minutes a few times a day interacting with baby on their tummy.

“Place baby on your chest to talk and play, but don’t let baby sleep there,” he said. “Place baby in a safe place on the floor where you can watch and play with your baby for a few minutes. Some babies might not like being on their tummy at first, but gradually work up to 30 minutes a day of tummy time.”

Dr. Lindgren gives some suggestions for fun ways to help your baby exercise during tummy time:

– Place a toy just out of baby’s reach, to see if they’ll move their head or arms.
– Place several toys in a circle around baby to encourage baby to roll over, scoot or crawl.

But Dr. Lindgren also joins the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep at night and during naps. The Back to Sleep and Safe Sleep campaigns have contributed to a 40 percent decrease in sudden infant death syndrome in the U.S.

He says babies should be placed on their backs to sleep at night and for naps until they reach their first birthday. “Once baby can roll over both ways, from back to tummy and tummy to back, you do not need to return your baby to the back position,” says Dr. Lindgren.

Dr. Lindgren adds a few more suggestions for safe sleep. “Nothing else should be in an infant’s crib. Do not put blankets, pillows, bumpers or soft toys into the crib.”

Dr. Lindgen says pacifiers are ok, but parents may want to delay their use for the first two to three weeks after birth if mom is breastfeeding. “Make sure there is nothing that could cover a baby’s mouth or nose while sleeping.”

And if baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier or sling, Dr. Lindgren suggests moving them to a firm sleep surface on their back as soon as possible.

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.

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