Tummy Time And Cognitive Development

We all love playing with our baby, especially when they start to wiggle on their bellies like a tiny sea lion. But tummy time doesn’t only strengthen their neck, head, shoulders and arms, it’s great for their cognitive function too. Tummy time is usually recommended by experts as it is the one exercise that will help your baby build all the muscles they need in order to start crawling and roll around, which is a huge milestone for your baby and an indication that they are developing well (1). But just physical development won’t do, your baby’s cognitive function and brain has to grow and develop too. And with tummy time, that’s easily accomplished. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone! So, if you want to know all the cognitive benefits of tummy time and how to go about it, then keep reading!

When To Start Tummy Time?

When To Start Tummy Time

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Your little one doesn’t need to stay on their stomach for long periods of time in order for it to be effective. In fact, they can start off with as little as 30 seconds on their stomach. This itself will provide many benefits for the motor skills and their sensory development (2). And as your child grows older and gets stronger, the amount of time they can spend on their stomach will steadily increase. A general guideline is 10 minutes per age in months per day. It is also recommended that newborns have a few minutes of tummy time spread across the course of a day. Most parents are hesitant to put their newborn babies in this position so early on, but it’s actually great for them. This way they have a chance to get used to it. And they’ll be super safe with you supervising and monitoring them carefully every step of the way. If you don’t want to put your baby down in their crib, you can place them, tummy first on you for a couple of moments. And this will work just as well (3).

Tummy Time Chart By Age

Tummy Time Chart By Age

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Here’s what to expect from tummy time with regard to the age of your little one (4):

  • 1 To 3 Months: The baby is going to show increased flexibility and head movement
  • 4 Months: The baby will begin to lift their chest off of the flat surface
  • 5 To 6 Months: They can straighten their arms, learn to pivot and begin doing some pre-crawling movements
  • 7 To 9 Months: The baby starts rocking back and forth and they can finally transition from being on their hands and knees to sitting by themselves. They can also start to reach for toys and crawl independently

How To Do Tummy Time With Your Baby

How To Do Tummy Time With Your Baby

Image: IStock

Well, it’s not rocket science. However, some babies may pose more of a challenge for you as not all of them are naturally receptive to the tummy time position and prefer to be on their backs instead. And if this is the case with your little one then it’s time for you to make tummy time more engaging. Additionally, all you need to do is add some other educational components to tummy time in order for it to also help foster your baby’s cognitive development. Here’s how you do that. Spread a couple of interesting toys in front of your baby while they are on their tummy. Chances are that your baby will look at those toys, identify them and reach out for them. This action doesn’t just require motor skills and strength but decision making as well. You could also place an unbreakable mirror on the blanket nearby to further develop your child’s cognitive skills.

That’s right, looking at the mirror when they are little isn’t vanity. This is how your little one learns to gaze at themselves and at you. They learn to identify faces and trace movements through the mirror and can even develop their small muscles as they try to roll and reach for the reflections in the mirror. Introducing a mirror during tummy time is great because it encourages your baby to lift up their head, keep it up for a while and try moving around. This is why it works so well for babies who usually cry during tummy time. Now they are too entranced and fascinated by the reflection of themselves in the mirror. The idea is to help your child stay in the tummy position for as long as possible.

Tummy time may not be easy but there are too many benefits to forgo it. So, make sure that your little one spends some time on their stomachs so that their cognitive function and muscles can develop well!

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