As cute as it is for babies to hang out on your person at all times, they'll eventually need to sit, crawl, stand, and function as autonomous human beings. That's why "tummy time" becomes crucial at around three to four months of age.
"Tummy time develops upper body strength and head control, and strengthens muscles in the arms and neck," says Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D., Former Director of Child Research for the Fisher-Price Play Lab. "All of this is needed in the next stages of physical development – rolling over, pushing up and, eventually, crawling."
So the idea is to place babies on their tummies for a spell each day when they are most with it – say, after a nap, a change and a snack – so they can develop the skills they'll eventually need to be upright. Some parents start this process at the tender age of one or two months for just a minute or two, if baby can move his neck up. Others feel more comfy starting the process at three or four months, when babies’ bodies are a little stronger. Start with just a few minutes at first, gradually increasing tummy time when your mini-me demonstrates more muscle strength and mobility.
Dr. Alfano adds that tummy time is great for baby's mental muscles as well. "Tummy time also helps promote sensory development, allowing babies to see the world from a whole new perspective," she explains. Give them a better view of the room by propping a rolled-up baby blanket beneath their chest.
That said, lying on the floor with nothing to look at but furniture legs might be boring – even to a three-month old. Baby mats and gyms may double as brain-stimulating entertainment for baby, and a convenient pet hair/dustball shield for you. Mobile gyms or musical playmats stimulate little minds and keep your baby busy. Beats dust bunnies every time!
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.