Before your baby begins to crawl or walk, little one will have lots of other important milestones to overcome including rolling over, sitting up and developing the strength to lift up their heads and necks. One of the ways you can help your baby to develop these skills is tummy time.
Tummy time is exactly as it sounds, when your baby spends time laying tummy down when awake and supervised. Tummy time helps babies to practice lifting their heads and begin to develop strength in their arms. This physical development is essential for babies to eventually learn to sit, roll and crawl. Additionally, popping your baby on his tummy for playtime will provide him with the opportunity to move from side-to-side, which helps to develop both coordination, balance and control which is beneficial when eventually learning to crawl.
The sooner you start tummy time the more likely your baby will accept it. A great way to start getting your baby used to tummy time is by doing lots of skin to skin from newborn. To get started, lie down on your back somewhere comfortable and place your baby on top of your tummy. Make sure you use a pillow to lift your head slightly, so you can communicate with each other.
Once your baby gets used to laying on his tummy, change to laying him across your lap for a few minutes, you can encourage this by stroking his head and back and rocking your legs slightly. As your baby gets a little older transfer to placing your baby tummy down on a change mat or the floor for a few minutes at a time. Experts recommend tummy time 2-3 times each day for roughly 3-5 minutes. Don’t worry if your baby is fussy after only a couple of minutes, over time little one will become more comfortable with tummy time. There are however a number of things you can do to help your baby get used to enjoying tummy time.
Try these 10 tips for Tummy Time success…
- Newborn babies can seem so fragile in the early days, new parents often feel anxious about handling their baby. But this time is an amazing opportunity to introduce your baby to being on their tummy by offering lots of skin-to-skin in their first weeks of life.
- Tummy time can be a great time for bonding with your baby, spend time singing, talking to your baby and enjoying these special moments together. Your baby will love smelling your skin and feeling the warmth of your body. When your baby progresses to tummy time on the floor, move down there with him.
- Tummy time is a perfect family activity, get your partner, siblings and grandparents involved, they can all get down on the floor and interact with your baby during tummy time.
- Babies will be more interested in tummy time if you get down on the floor with them. Your baby will naturally be looking for you and will turn towards the sound of your voice, this encourages your baby to build head and neck strength.
- Using different textures during tummy time will encourage your baby to interact with the environment. Use things such as textured mats, sheepskin rugs or soft blankets that provide interesting textures.
- Keep little one cosy and warm during tummy time. A great location for tummy time during the first few months is on their change mat, once you’ve finished changing their nappy, make the most of this time to give your baby the opportunity to practice tummy time. Use something such as the Reer Changing Table Heater to keep your baby cosy during tummy time.
- In addition to stimulating your baby’s sense of touch with interesting textures, engage with your baby with different colours and sounds, use colourful mats and toys as well as singing and talking to your baby throughout tummy time.
- If your baby isn’t a massive fan of tummy time then just take it slow, don’t aim for extended periods of time, instead go for short bursts of tummy time and build slowly from there.
- Consider what times you’re doing tummy time, don’t go for straight after a feed or before your baby is due for a nap. Lying tummy down with a full stomach will likely be uncomfortable and if your baby is tired, he will likely be fussy. It’s best to wait until exactly the right time to encourage a positive experience.
- If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, then consider side lying instead. It’s a great alternative to tummy time. Simply support your baby’s back with a rolled towel and allow his arms and legs to be in front. Play with your baby to encourage him to stay in this position. Whilst side lying doesn’t give exactly the same benefits in terms of strength training, it does support development and skills in other ways.
Above all else don’t become too stressed if your baby doesn’t take to tummy time straight away. Babies that won’t tolerate tummy time do still learn to sit up, crawl and walk just like other babies. You could also try babywearing as an alternative to tummy time because babies can practise lifting their heads and looking around from the comfort of their carrier or wrap and it helps to strengthen their muscles.
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