Newborn Baby Tummy Time
"Children are natural mimics - they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners."
Since the "Back to Sleep" campaign began in 1994, SIDS rates have dropped more than 50% 19 but an unfortunate side affect is that babies no longer spend much time (if any) on their stomach. This has led to developmental delays, especially when it comes to gross motor skills 17, such as rolling, sitting, crawling, and eventually standing and walking.
Another reason babies need to spend time on their stomach is to give their still-forming skull bones time to relieve some of the pressure that comes with a constant supine position. Not incorporating this into a daily routine may lead to the bones not forming and fusing properly.
Some babies develop a flat side to their head from constant pressure in the same spot. This can eventually lead to the need for an intervention such as wearing a special helmet to help the bones form correctly.18
It is probably also a good thing to wait until some time has passed after eating, as lying on a full stomach could be uncomfortable. Before she is put down, make sure she has an opportunity to burp, if needed.
When my oldest was born, he was a "noodle neck". Some babies are born with excellent control and strength of neck muscles. My nephew was born 1 week after my son, and had better head control at 1 month than my son did at 3 months. I soon recognized that my son needed a little extra push to help better develop those muscles, and tummy time was the answer. To encourage him to tolerate it as long as possible, I would lie down with him on my chest and sing or talk to him.
The surface that you put your baby on should be firm and soft. A crib mattress, carpet covered with a thin blanket, your lap, or a play mat work well. When your baby has developed a little bit of control, you can also try propping them on a nursing pillow, with their arms hanging over the front. I've also seen an exercise ball work rather well by placing the baby on top, and while keeping a firm hold at all times, rocking gently.
It's important that tummy time doesn't have a negative association to your baby, so if you are unable to keep her somewhat content, stop and try again later.
If your baby falls asleep while on her stomach, she needs to be moved to her back to decrease the risk of SIDS. I know, it's tempting to leave her, but why would you want to risk it? SIDS prevention studies have show a huge leap in risk when a back sleeping baby falls asleep on her tummy.