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Building a Strong Core for Baby: June 10, 2012

Giving babies adequate tummy time helps them build a strong foundation.

“We want them to have plenty of time on their tummy and plenty of time to explore on the floor; safe surfaces so that they can start to use some of those big muscle groups that they need,” says Dr. Eric Jones, a pediatrician on the medical staff of the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

What may be fun and games is actually developing core trunk muscles. Stomach and back muscles are the weakest for babies. The baby boot camp is getting them ready to take on toddler activities.

“Just getting them on their belly means they push up with their hands and raise up their upper body, so they’re strengthening up the lower back which then helps them to roll. They have to be able to use those muscles to twist. They have to be able to use those muscles to sit, stand, walk, everything,” says Dr. Jones.

 Babies should begin their ab workouts at about four weeks, and just like an adult starting an exercise routine, they need to take baby steps.

“Babies’ attention spans are very short, you might be lucky if you get five minutes of fuss free tummy time at the beginning but then you change the activity, change the direction, they’re looking and you can gradually lengthen the time,” says Dr. Jones.

As the child gets older, they should be able to tolerate up to two hours on their stomach, broken up in segments. Not getting enough time on the tummy could lead to delays.

“If you’re not good at pushing up with your hands you’re not going to be good at rolling, sitting, standing or walking,” says Dr. Jones.

Making time for the tummy is giving your baby building blocks for a healthy future.