It’s recommended for all babies that they do Tummy Time as soon as they are born, but can baby do Tummy Time in the NICU?

Tummy Time is one of the best exercises for baby! It helps with motor development and strengthens head, neck and shoulder muscles. Tummy Time also can help prevent positional plagiocephaly and torticollis, and helps with sensory development. Additionally, Tummy Time can be a good time for bonding, which helps with communication and social-emotional development. There are so many benefits for baby!

So if the recommendation is baby should do Tummy Time as soon as they come home from the hospital, what do you do if baby is in the NICU?  Good news! There are still ways to do Tummy Time if baby is the NICU. Below are some recommendations to try Tummy Time with baby while they are in the hospital. Remember to always ask a healthcare provider if an activity is safe to do with baby while they are in the NICU.

  • During Massage 30, 10, 5, place baby on your chest. This allows for a position like Tummy to Chest.
  • With the permission of a healthcare provider, try Tummy Time on your chest, on your lap or on the surface of the bed.
  • Be mindful of any tubes baby may have inserted. Ask for help from your partner or medical staff if you need help positioning baby.

Tummy Time is very important to begin even when the baby is in the NICU.

Tummy Time should be done when your baby is awake and alert. Here are some tips to help baby get the best Tummy Time possible on different surfaces.

  • When you hold your baby on your chest, be sure to place the baby on both sides, right shoulder and left shoulder
  • If you baby is doing Tummy Time on your lap, switch the direction of baby’s face. For a minute or two, place baby so they are looking to the right, then switch so they are looking to the left.
  • When baby is doing Tummy Time on the bed, slowly roll baby from back to stomach to give them a chance to get used to the transition. Make sure the bed is firm and there are no pillows or blankets nearby that baby could get wrapped up in.

When it is time for baby to prepare to come home, make sure you know how to do Tummy Time at home with baby. Always ask their healthcare provider if you have questions about Tummy Time!


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