I’m just going to jump straight into this because I just wanted to do a ‘to the point’ post about what tummy time is, what the benefits are and how you can go about it. It’s important for babies to have tummy time, and I thought I would share this with those of you who may want some more information. I will not be writing my own blog post but rather sharing pieces of information Iv’e found that are relevant, so here we go;
Tummy time is quite simply placing a baby on his or her stomach (While they are awake and you are WATCHING THEM). Here are the following sections (so keep reading or find the one that your interested in);
- Why Tummy Time is important
- When to Start Tummy Time
- What if my baby hates it?
- How to make tummy time fun
- 10 best tips for tummy time success
Why Tummy Time Is Important
Like adults, infants need to experience a variety of positions throughout the day in order to maintain and develop healthy, functional bodies. Newborns who spend the majority of their time in car seats and lying on their backs can develop a misshapen or flattened head.
Leaving your baby on her belly for a few minutes while she’s awake helps her work all the muscles in her upper body, promoting trunk stability and head control.This helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting.
Tummy time also encourages your little one to practice reaching and pivoting, skills that are often precursors to crawling. And research shows that a lack of tummy time can delay your baby from meeting physical development milestones like lifting her head, rolling over, sitting up, and more. This physical development will eventually become crucial for babies to sit, roll, push up, and crawl.
Additionally, placing your baby on her belly for play will provide her with the opportunity to move from side-to-side, which can help with coordination, balance and postural control. As she gains these new motor skills and perspectives, she’ll become more confident and curious, which will encourage her to move and explore the world around her not to mention, prepare herself for crawling.
When to Start Tummy Time
Begin at 2 weeks old with short sessions of 30 seconds to one minute. Try placing your newborn belly-down on your chest or across your lap so he gets accustomed to the position. To make it part of your routine, put your baby on his tummy after each daytime diaper change. Just don’t do it right after a feeding, when pressure on his stomach may cause him to spit up.
By 2 months old, aim for three 5-minute sessions daily on a flat, cushioned surface, like a playmat on the floor. If she seems uncomfortable, try rolling up a receiving blanket and tucking it under her armpits to give her support.
By 3 or 4 months, your baby should be able to lift his chest off the floor and lean on his elbows with his head upright. He may even be able to lift his arms off the floor, arch his back, and kick his feet. After 4 months, your baby may be strong enough to start rolling over during tummy time—something that will surprise and thrill him endlessly.
As your baby grows, strive for a minimum of 15 minutes of tummy time per day, while encouraging him to play longer. Once your child is rolling over and independently spending time on his stomach, usually by 6 months old, you can stop dedicated tummy time.
What if my baby hates it?
Many babies are initially resistant to the new position and perspective of being belly-down on the floor. If your baby fusses when you start tummy time on the floor, try comforting her by returning to a position on your belly or lap, reminding him that he’s safe and secure on his tummy.
Remember, more than anything, babies crave emotional connection and interaction with their parents, so be sure to help your baby along during tummy time by getting down on her level and interacting with her in a loving, stimulating way.
Avoid putting babies on their tummies if they’ve just eaten or if they are gassy or irritable.The pressure on their belly will, understandably, be uncomfortable. This is especially true for babies who have colic or acid reflux. Be especially sensitive to their unique needs. Do tummy time just after your baby wakes from a nap or directly after a diaper change. You also want to avoid at the end of the day or during the witching hour time.
How to make tummy time fun
Toys and play mats designed for tummy time make it more fun for the baby, with patterns, colors, textures, and mirrors for her to look at, reach for, and interact with.
Babies love texture, and by placing your baby on a simple soft surface, like this natural blanket, she’ll be able to enjoy its texture by moving her arms and legs over it. Try dressing your baby in a onesie with her legs uncovered so she can have a stimulating tactile experience.
Other play mats are specifically designed with tummy time in mind: This owl tummy time mat is colorful and textured with detachable toys to encourage your baby to reach and play while she’s on her belly. The U-shaped pillow is also detachable, and can be used to prop up your baby’s chest.
Consider placing a few interesting toys just out of reach of your baby while she’s on her tummy. Baby mirrors, like this one, can be easily stood up, allowing babies to gaze at themselves and interact as they learn to lift their heads with more strength and control.
10 best tips for tummy time success
- Start early – Newborns can seem so fragile in their early days that some first-time parents feel nervous to handle them too much 🙂 But you have the amazing opportunity to introduce your newborn to the wonders of her new life on land by giving them belly-to-belly tummy time with you in their first days of life.
- Make tummy time a bonding time – Especially while your baby is having tummy time on your body, sing to her, talk to her, make eye contact and enjoy this special moment of growing and learning together. She’ll love smelling your skin and the warmth of your body on hers. When she moves to the floor for tummy time, go with her.
- It’s for the whole family – Partners, dads, siblings, and grandparents can participate in the bonding, too by placing baby on their bodies or lying down on the floor while baby has tummy time there.
- Get on her level – Babies will be more interested in floor time on their tummies if their loved-ones are nearby. Your baby will naturally look for your face and turn her head toward the sound of your voice, thus encouraging her to build strength.
- Introduce texture – Textured mats, sheepskin rugs, or soft blankets will provide interesting tactile stimulation, something babies crave.
- Stimulate your baby’s senses – In addition to stimulating her sense of touch, engage your baby with colorful mats and toys, as well as by singing and talking to her throughout play.
- Take it slow – If your baby doesn’t like staying on her tummy for an extended time, give her very short experiences that introduce her to the activity. Build slowly from there.
- Timing is everything – Remember that lying belly-down with a gassy or full tummy would be uncomfortable for anyone. And if your baby is already sleepy or fussy, it’s best to hold off on tummy time until she’s rested. Try it just after a nap or a diaper change, and avoid classically fussy times of day. (Looking at you, witching hour.)
- Consider side lying – An alternative to tummy time (if your baby doesn’t tolerate being on her stomach) is placing your baby on a blanket on her side. Support her back with a rolled towel and her head (if needed) with a folded washcloth. Allow her arms and legs to be in front of her, and play with her in this position. While side lying may not give the same kind of strength training as belly-down play, it allows for important position changes and supports development and motor skills in other ways.
- Don’t stress it – You may be doing everything right, but your baby just doesn’t like being placed on her tummy. That’s okay, too. Babies who refuse tummy time still grow to sit up, crawl, and walk like their peers.”