Tummy Time: Why It's Important

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 25, 2021

Babies sleep a lot. And as you probably already know, to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), your baby should be placed on their back to sleep.

But during the day, it's time to let your baby check out the world from a whole different point of view -- on their tummy.

  • "Tummy time" lets your baby learn how to support their neck and shoulders. Let them spend 3-5 minutes on their tummy a few times each day - supervised, of course.
  • Lay your baby on different surfaces for tummy time, such as on the floor or on your chest.
  • Put a brightly colored toy on the floor for your baby to focus on.
  • Increase the length of "tummy time" as your baby gets older with a goal of around 60 minutes per day by age of 3 months.
  • Some babies may not like being on their tummies. If your baby is one of them, increase their tummy time gradually.

New Moms: Caring for You

You're so wrapped up in caring for your new baby that you might have forgotten to take care of another important person: you!

Almost all new moms feel frustrated, sad, and overwhelmed at times. It's called the "baby blues."

You might have the baby blues if you:

  • Cry a lot more than usual
  • Feel really sad
  • Have trouble falling asleep, even though you're exhausted
  • Aren't hungry
  • Feel guilty and hopeless

These feelings should disappear in a few days to a week after you deliver. If they don't go away or if you start feeling even worse, get help from your ob-gyn, primary care doctor, or a therapist.

  • To catch up on missed sleep, nap when your baby naps. Or get help so you can get a few hours of blissful shut-eye.
  • Caring for a new baby can be lonely. When you need company, call a friend or family member to hang out with you.
  • Take a stroll with your baby. If you use a carrier, check that it fits and that it supports your baby's head and neck, while facing inward.
  • Once your baby's umbilical cord stump falls off, bathe them in a small tub with about 2 inches of warm water.
  • To treat any greasy, scaly skin on your baby's scalp (called cradle cap), wash it with a gentle baby shampoo and softly brush off the scales. You can also rub on mineral oil if recommended by your doctor.
  • Your baby's tiny nails can be hard to trim, but it's important to keep them short so they don't scratch themselves. To make cutting their nails easier, do it while they are asleep, and try filing with an emery board or nail file.
  • It's normal for babies to have small pimples, or baby acne, on their face and shoulders. Use a soft washcloth and warm water to keep your baby's skin clean.

Show Sources


American Academy of Pediatrics: "Welcome to the World of Parenting!"

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Baby Blues and Beyond."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Heading Out with Baby."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Bathing Your Newborn."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Cradle Cap."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Nails, Nails Everywhere!"

AboutKidsHealth: "Tummy Time: Helping Your Baby."

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