So what is tummy time? Tummy time is a term that we have developed meaning when you put your baby lying in the prone position on the baby's stomach.
Why is tummy time important? We now put our babies to sleep on their back to prevent SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
In the past when I was a child, our parents were taught to put us to sleep on our stomach. Now that's forbidden because we know that's an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death. Because we're putting babies to sleep on their back, we're delaying their motor milestone somewhat, so we have to force the babies to lay on their tummies, and this is a problem because once the baby's learn to go to sleep and lie on their backs they don't really enjoy being on their tummies.
We have to make a conscious effort to put babies on their tummies when they're awake so they develop their good upper body tone and normal motor milestones.
Babies who don't get tummy time won't roll over on time and won't sit up on time because they've never learned to pivot off of their arms. You need to give the baby tummy time while awake.
It's good to start tummy time around one month of age. That being said, you can put the baby down on a firm surface, whether it be a mattress or a pad on the floor, and give your baby tummy time from as early as two weeks of age. Babies need to learn to push up off of the mattress. Do not put the baby on a soft mattress like a couch or pillow because the baby gets too mushy, and the baby can suffocate and drop their face into that pillow.
Babies need to learn to push themselves up, and I recommend three to five minute increments several times a day, three to five times a day, just to give that baby that exercise.
Three to five minutes is eternity for a baby. My son didn't want to do tummy time at all. I actually had to buy a baby toy with a mirror, actually my cousin gave it to me, to teach my son, because I thought maybe if he would be interested in seeing himself in the mirror he would actually push up and think it was another baby. I have to tell you that even at four months he just dropped his face down and had no interest in the toy whatsoever. So you really have to work on tummy time with your babies.