Tummy Time Alternatives: Does Babywearing Count as Tummy Time?
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“Help! My Baby Hates Tummy Time!”
Are you feeling guilty because you haven’t started tummy time yet for your baby? Or maybe you’ve tried but your baby seems to hate it, so you’re wondering about tummy time alternatives.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone! I went through the same thing with both of my babies.
Experts such as the Mayo Clinic and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend tummy time two to three times a day for three to five minutes per time from birth, and from there gradually adding more time.
Like you, I would lay a blanket down on the floor and place my babies tummy down on it. They immediately started fussing and, if I didn’t pick them up, would end up in a full-blown meltdown.
Of course, you don’t want your baby to get behind developmentally, or to get a flat head. So you start looking for ways to get your baby to like floor time. But she just wants to be held!
Which brings us to the reason you’re here. So, let’s find out: does babywearing count as tummy time?
I am not a medical professional, and this information is not intended to replace medical advice.
Yes, Babywearing Counts as Tummy Time!
Research reveals a dramatic reduction in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that healthy babies be placed on their backs to sleep in 1992 and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development started their “Back-to-Sleep” campaign in 1994 (source).
However, the lack of time spent on their tummies was causing early motor delays, among other adverse effects.
Tummy time is a key component in a baby’s development. However, many parents find that their babies don’t particularly enjoy spending time on their tummies.
Don’t despair — there are a number of ways to “accrue” the recommended amount of tummy time, though, in addition to time spent belly down on the floor.
There are a number of ways for babies to 'accrue' the recommended amount of tummy time, in addition to time spent belly down on the floor.Click To Tweet
One such way:
Wearing your baby in an infant carrier that allows baby to be chest to chest with you.
Let’s discuss why babywearing counts as tummy time, and then we’ll find out when you can start babywearing, plus a few other alternatives to tummy time on the floor. Finally, we’ll discuss whether you still need to put baby on the floor or not.
(Wondering what type of carrier is perfect for babywearing in place of tummy time? I personally used the Boba wrap. You can read my full review here.)
Why Does Babywearing Count as Tummy Time?
One goal of tummy time is to develop the head, neck, shoulder, and trunk muscles. Before a baby is able to lift her head, she will often express signs of distress.
Fortunately, there are tummy time alternatives that will aid in a baby’s development, one of them being babywearing. The goal is that your baby will eventually begin to tolerate, and even enjoy, spending time on the floor.
A few benefits of tummy time that are also achieved by babywearing:
1. Head and Neck Strength
Wearing baby upright on your chest aids in building head, neck, and shoulder strength. It can also potentially help avoid torticollis, a condition that causes the neck muscles to become tight.
2. Core Strength
Babywearing builds the trunk muscles, and the movement while in the carrier helps to strengthen baby’s spine while developing a sense of balance.
2. Motor Skill Development
Both babywearing and tummy time aid in the development of a child’s bones, muscles and ability to move around and manipulate his or her environment.
3. Physiological Development
Babywearing involves infants and toddlers in their surroundings, stimulating all of their senses.
4. Environmental Observation
Again, babywearing involves infants and toddlers in their surroundings because they tend to spend more time in a “quiet alert” state.
5. Head Shape Maintenance
Plagiocephaly, or a flat spot on the back of the head, occurs when a baby spends too much time on his back or in “baby containers” like a swing or bouncer.
6. Gas Pain Relief
While tummy time can help a baby relieve gas, the vertical position while babywearing also aids the digestive system, resulting in a less gassy baby.
How Soon Can I Start Babywearing?
Does babywearing count as tummy time? Yes, it does. But how soon can you start?
You can start wearing your newborn right away, as long as you use the correct type of carrier and follow all the safety guidelines. With some carriers, you can even wear toddlers up to 30+ pounds (some go even past 40 pounds).
Of course, you should always read and follow the safety guidelines that accompany your baby carrier, including any size specifications.
Find out which baby carrier is best for newborns.
More Alternatives to Tummy Time
Wondering about some additional ways to “accrue” tummy time with your baby, besides wearing your baby in a carrier or baby wrap?
Here are a few more alternatives to tummy time:
- Cradle your baby tummy-down with arms and legs splayed on either side of your arm.
- Hold your baby tummy-down on your chest while lying on an inclined surface.
- Hold your baby up on your chest in a burping position.
- Use the laid back nursing position while breastfeeding.
Do I Still Have to Put Baby on the Floor?
“If my baby doesn’t get floor time, how will she learn how to roll over? Or crawl? Or…walk?!”
Even though babywearing counts as tummy time, as do various holding positions, you should still give your baby some floor time.
Time spent playing on the floor allows for movement of the entire body. Make this time fun by providing a variety of toys, books, or even a mirror for baby to look in.
If your baby is distressed during tummy time, simply pick her up, place her in the baby carrier, and try again later. Eventually, she might even grow to enjoy floor time — and, yes, your baby will still learn how to roll over, even if you wear her for most of her tummy time.
Read more about babywearing:
What’s a baby wrap you can nurse in?
How to choose the best baby carrier for summer + hot weather
Is it safe to use a Boba wrap for newborn babies?