What’s tummy time? It’s exactly what the name suggests, giving your baby time on their tummy (on their stomach) so they’re not lying on their back. Think of it as a baby’s first workout! Tummy time allows your baby to build strength and develop control of their head and body. You should start Tummy Time the very day they come home from hospital.
Babies learn to control their heads first, then their shoulders, and then all the way down to their toes. Tummy time gives your baby the opportunity to strengthen the muscles needed for rolling, crawling and walking. It also helps with fine motor skills and co-ordination too.
Once your baby can lift their head, you can use toys to entertain them during tummy time, to also work on those important fine motor skills as baby tries to reach out and grab the toys. This kind of play is also good for coordination, as your baby masters how to get their arms out to reach out to the toy.
Tummy time is also important because it reduces the amount of time babies spend on their backs.
Some babies are happy and content being placed on their tummy while others might start crying as soon as you try. But tummy time is a very important exercise to aid in their physical development so it’s important that you work out which type of Tummy Time your baby likes and make it a part of your regular routine.
5 Ways to Tummy Time
On Your Chest
Your baby feels safe and secure cuddled up on your chest, so it makes sense to start there. It reduces the risk of your baby getting upset, and both parents can bond with your baby while they enjoy Tummy Time. This is the best position for Tummy Time with newborns.
Across Your Knees
Sit down and lay your baby across your knees for tummy time. You can also sooth your baby by gently stroking them to reassure them they are safe in this position.
Up In The Air!
Around 4 months of age you can get a little more adventurous. Lie on the floor on your back and lay your baby down from your knees to your feet so they’re facing you. Make sure you’re firmly holding onto your baby. Now lift your feet off the floor so that your baby is ‘flying’ up and down. This is a good workout for you too!
On the Floor on a Blanket or Mat
Once they are a few months old, babies need a firm surface in order to push themselves up during tummy time. If your baby doesn’t like being placed on the floor on their tummy, they might need some help getting used to it. You can roll up a towel and place it under baby’s chest to help them feel raised.
Floor mirrors are a great help with tummy time on the floor as your baby loves to look at faces and will be keen to lift their head to see themselves in the mirror.
On A Bed
If you place your baby so their head is near the edge, and their body safely toward the centre of the bed, they will have a pretty good view. Sit on the floor in front of your baby and sing some action songs to keep them entertained and to encourage them to lift their head.
Extra Tips For Tummy Time
Make tummy time a regular part of your routine. Try a few minutes after each nappy change. Initially your baby might last 5 minutes, but in time that may increase to 15 or 20 minutes.
Have some toys on hand. Brightly coloured and noisy toys are ideal to distract your baby during tummy time. Hold them up so she can see them. Offer your baby objects of different colours, shapes and textures to explore during tummy time.
As your baby grows stronger, try placing toys just out of reach. This will encourage your baby to propel themselves towards them.
Keep trying! If your baby gets upset being placed on their tummy don’t force it but keep trying different positions and surfaces. They will eventually warm up to it.