I bet that when you planned on becoming a parent, you never thought you would have homework to do everyday. Now I'm not talking about home-work, as in laundry etc. I am talking about the kind you got at school.
Other than the usual daily chores and needs of your baby you need to tend to. You also have to make sure you get around to doing the daily tummy time sessions.
The curve of their spine and arch of their legs when they begin to sit can also become compromised due to not having enough tummy time and they can develop Flat-Head-Syndrome.
Due to the safe sleeping guidelines for newborns that say that you must always have your baby sleeping on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), babies get very little opportunity to be on their backs and develop the necessary muscles for head and neck control.
That is why doctors recommend that you do supervised tummy time sessions each day with your little one. It will give your baby a safe opportunity to develop their, head, neck, shoulder, arm, back...basically all their muscles.
At first it will only be a short session of about 1 minute before they start crying. I still remember how hard it was for me to witness my newborn's face bobbing and scraping against the blanket as she tried to lift her head. Luckily now at 4 months she loves being on her tummy and she is now able to push up on her arms and even move her head side to side to look around.
The tummy time sessions will thus increase in duration as your baby becomes stronger and tolerates longer sessions. You can even break up the sessions during the day and have 3 sessions of 20 minutes when she is 4 months old. Do as much tummy time as she will tolerate.
There are also different options for doing tummy time, as all time spent on their tummies count. You can have your baby lying on your stomach, lying against your chest if you sit against pillows, lying across your lap, carry her tummy side down in your arms or throw a blanket on the bed or floor for her. If she struggles to lift up on her arms, you can prop a rolled up blanket under her arms and across her chest to help her.
Developing her muscles will help her with all her developmental milestones such as crawling on her stomach, crawling on all fours, rolling over, sitting up and also pulling herself up to stand. In addition to all these benefits, you will also be able to ensure that she does not develop Flat-Head-Syndrome (Positional Plagiocephaly) from being on her back and in the same position the whole time.
Because babies spend most of their time on their backs sleeping, in bouncy-chairs or car seats, the soft movable plates on their skull can become misshaped and a flat spot can form. The curve of their spine and arch of their legs when they begin to sit can also become compromised due to not having enough tummy time and they can develop Flat-Head-Syndrome.
To make tummy time a more enjoyable experience for everyone, make sure to throw down enough soft blankets on the hard floor, put out some toys or a mirror and get down to your baby's level. Babies love faces and being able to see you will encourage her to lift her head.
If you are afraid of forgetting to do tummy time, because I know how many things a new mom needs to remember, you can also incorporate the tummy time into your routine. For example you can do 1 minute of tummy time after each diaper change, or even just once a day if that is all you can manage.
Here are some more articles on tummy time and flat head syndrome: