This post will highlight the importance of Tummy Time and offer some helpful Tummy Time Tips and Tricks to help make Tummy Time more enjoyable for all!
Let’s begin with some important questions:
Why does my baby need Tummy Time?
Tummy time helps children develop important neck, back, and shoulder muscles. The muscles are needed to help achieve early motor milestones. Tummy time may also help prevent motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome (Plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (Torticollis). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play.
Tummy time also allows children the opportunity to visually explore the environment in a new way. When a child is positioned on their back, he or she can see only the ceiling and whatever is directly around them. But on the child’s stomach, they begin to independently engage their muscles to lift their head and see their environment at eye level, giving the child a completely new view of the world!
As the child begins to gain head and neck control on tummy, they will be able to push up on forearms and then hands. This input is important to shoulder stability as well as hand strength and future fine motor skill development.
Why does my baby seem to dislike Tummy Time?
Positioning a child on their tummy can be trying for the child, especially at first as the child has to work against gravity to maintain their head in a vertical position. The muscles of the head, neck and upper back have not yet been challenged in this manner, and thus are not yet developed. Also the child may feel “trapped” in this position, as they do not yet have the skills to roll from tummy to back.
How do I make Tummy Time more fun?
Instead of placing your baby on tummy and leaving them with a few toys, first begin by rolling them from back to belly, and belly to back a few times. This is a great way to incorporate motor learning and show the child that they can transition in and out of tummy time.
Talk through the movements and actions as you guide your child onto their stomach, your voice will be both soothing and reassuring. Make tummy time part of the daily routine, as your child adds tummy time to their “repertoire” of skills, you will see marked improvement in their comfort and skill level!
When should my baby start Tummy Time?
Tummy Time can begin as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital.
How much Tummy Time does my baby need?
Try to build up child’s tolerance, incorporating different tummy time activities throughout the day. Aim for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. As your child gains strength and comfort, increase the amount of time you spend enjoying tummy time!
Fun Tummy Time Tips and Tricks
Tummy time does not need to take place solely on the floor, here are a few Tummy Time Tips and Tricks to mix up the tummy time routine and make things more fun for all!
1. Tummy to Tummy
Lie down on a soft surface, flat or propped up on pillows. Place baby on your chest or tummy, so that you are face-to-face. Always hold firmly for safety. This is not only a great alternative tummy time position, it also engages the child’s visual system and is a great bonding opportunity for parent and baby! Perfect addition to your Tummy Time Tips and Tricks!
2. Eye Level Smile
Get down level with baby to encourage eye contact. You can roll up blanket under the child’s chest and under arms for additional support. Using your own body, soft toy or links, once the child’s gaze is locked, slowly move object side to side and up and down, your baby will begin tracking while maintaining tummy time position!
3. Lap Soothe
Place baby face down across your lap to burp or soothe them. A hand on baby’s bottom will help steady and calm them.
4. Tummy Down Carry
Position one hand under the tummy and between the legs and carry baby tummy down. Nestle baby close to your body.
5. Tummy Minute
Place baby on their tummy after routine activities such as diapering or bathing for one to two minute intervals. Gradually increase duration, allowing child to get used to tummy time as part of their daily routine.
Other Tummy Time Play Positions
Tummy Time on Therapy Ball
Tummy Time on Incline Wedge
Learn more about Dinosaur Physical Therapy!