Right away! The sooner you get started, the more accustomed baby will become to the position. Start off with just a few minutes 2-3 times each day during the first month, slowly extending tummy time until your reach a whole hour by the time baby is 3-months-old. Try to catch baby in a rested, good mood – after a diaper change or a nap is always a good bet – it’ll make tummy time more effective and enjoyable.
Babies are born with relatively large, heavy heads for their bodies and with limp neck and back muscles – this is what enables them to lie curled up in the womb. Consequently, newborns find it difficult to hold their heads alone and need support. When they lie on their tummies, it takes a great deal of effort for them to overcome the force of gravity and lift their heads up. At about 2-months, babies begin to enjoy more control over their head and necks movement and need more practice to master this ability and continue to the next stage or motor development.
Babies have a natural instinct to develop and control their bodies. Furthermore, they have an innate curiosity to see and discover their surroundings. When they lie on their tummies and lift their heads, they discover a new angle for seeing the world. This new angle encourages them to continue making the effort and practice lifting their heads.
Some studies indicate that over the past few years, more and more babies manage to reach full control – i.e. lifting their chests while leaning to their hands – only at 6-months. The reason for this delay is suspected to be related to the fact that babies’ lie more on their backs today (due to the risk of SIDS) and spend more time in safety seats. This means that babies spend less time on their tummies and therefore have less time to practice the all-important skill of lifting their heads. Insufficient tummy time may entail a delay in reaching motor skill milestones and affect the development of certain muscles.
Any advice and information provided in this website is given as suggestions only and should not be taken as a professional medical diagnosis or opinion. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent.