Tummy time is a euphemism for the time spent by a baby lying on their stomach while awake and supervised. It’s also referred to as being prone or the prone position. It is one of the baby’s first exercises and the most important. Here’s why tummy time is important as well as tips on how to do it.
Benefits of tummy time
Tummy time is important because it:
- Helps develop strong neck and shoulder muscles.
- Promotes gross motor skills.
- Can help prevent the flat head syndrome
- Helps prevent spots on the back of the head.
- Helps the baby build up the strength needed for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and eventually walking.
- It fosters a feeling of calmness regardless of age.
Babies who spend a lot of time on their tummies when they’re awake generally develop better head, shoulder, and neck control and do it sooner than their counterparts who don’t.
Tips for tummy time
Tummy time varies depending on the baby’s age and temperament.
Tummy time should be done when the baby is awake, and alert and should always be supervised. It can begin as soon as the newborn comes home from the hospital and continue throughout their first year.
Start tummy time by spreading out a blanket in a clear area. After a diaper change or nap, place the baby on their stomach on it for three to five minutes. Try doing it two to three times a day. As they get used to it, you can extend the frequency and the duration of time spent on their stomach. Your aim should be to achieve at least an hour of tummy time per day by the time they are 3 months old.
For babies who hate it
Some babies hate tummy time. Here are some tips to make it more fun.
- Start slow and keep it short.
- Introduce toys to distract them and for them to practice reaching out and grabbing.
- Move to the baby’s level and give them some face-to-face encouragement. Babies like that.
- Introduce plastic mirrors. This can encourage the baby to lift their heads to see their reflection.
- Put them on your tummy or chest.
- Involve a sibling, an older child to do it with them, with adult supervision.
- Work it into other activities like incorporating tummy time while drying them after a bath or while applying lotion on them.
- Sing or tell a story. This will encourage them to raise their heads while following your voice.
- Offer extra support by rolling a thin towel and placing it under their chest from one arm to the other. Make sure their chin, mouth, and nose are away from the bolster.
Other ways to do tummy time
If you’re not comfortable placing your newborn on a blanket on a flat surface, here are other ways to get some tummy time in.
- Place the baby on your tummy while lying on your back in a position commonly called tummy to tummy or tummy to the chest.
- You can carry the baby in a football hold or a tummy down carry. Position one hand under the tummy and between the legs and carry the baby tummy down. Use the other hand to support the baby’s head and neck. Nestle them close to your body to help them get accustomed to the position.
- Lap soothe. Place the baby face-down across your lap with a hand on their bottom to steady and calm them. This position can also be used to burp and soothe them.
It’s important in conclusion to stress how important it is that both you and the baby should be awake and alert during tummy time.
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