Your baby is not born with well-developed and strong muscles. His/her motor skills and neck muscles are weak and it takes about a month’s time for the baby to be able to lift the head on his/her own and turn it sideways.
Around the second month, your baby would be able to lift head at a 45 degree angle. S/he would normally tend to do so while lying on his/her tummy, or what is commonly called tummy-time. With time (around the third month), your baby will be able to raise his/her head between 45 and 90 degrees during tummy-time.
The act of raising the head by your baby has a positive correlation with tummy-time activity. Tummy-time activity would simply refer to the time spent by your baby lying on his/her stomach trying to push up head and arms, as opposed to him/her lying on the back like s/he does on most occasions.
It is hence crucial to let your new-born spend time lying on their tummy. S/he may be fussy or shriek when put in that position, but this is vital for the baby’s development.
This would be your baby’s first workout regime of sorts.
Start by laying your new-born on his/her tummy on the floor. If your baby cannot hold his/her head up for a long period of time place a pillow under his/her chest to help him/her get a better view. This can be done for around twenty minutes, twice or thrice in a day. It would be important to keep offering tummy-time until your baby learns to walk because his/her neck, tummy, and back muscles are all still developing.
Since your baby would spend most of the time on his/her back, tummy-time helps strengthen neck muscles. Whether s/he likes it or not, your baby needs this time to practice lifting the head, then pushing up from the ground. This would also help the baby reach other physical milestones such as rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking.
Babies who spend time on their tummy tend to develop muscles in their arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck. A baby who spends too much time on his/her back against a hard supporting surface won’t show the same improvement, and may even miss certain developmental milestones and develop a flat spot on the back of his head.