When they are awake, babies need to play in a variety of positions each day, including spending time on their tummies. For safety reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that babies sleep on their backs. Time on their tummies is important for babies' balanced muscle development. Some of the benefits of awake tummy time are to:
- Keep a rounded head shape
- Strengthen the muscles in the neck and head
- Strengthen the muscles in the back and the stomach needed for eventual rolling and sitting
- Strengthen the muscles in the shoulders and hips needed for eventual crawling and walking
- Provide a variety of different sensations
Introducing the baby to tummy time as soon as possible helps the baby adjust to this position. Some babies will need to be entertained while on their tummies. When parents get down to the baby's level it encourages head raising. Placing the baby tummy down on the parent’s chest is a way to provide tummy time and stimulation. When the baby is on its tummy, tuck the shoulders in and align the elbows underneath the shoulder for best positioning as if the baby is propping itself up.