When To Do Baby Tummy Time & What Is It?
Sep 16, 2022
So, you’ve probably heard the term ‘tummy time’ and are wondering what it’s all about…You may have thought tummy time was just a simple playtime activity, which it is, however, it also helps babies to reach their developmental milestones, like building their neck strength and gross motor skills. Here’s a short guide to the art of tummy time, why, how and the overall benefits for your baby and their development in their first years.
In This Article You'll Find:
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is simply placing your wide-awake baby tummy-down on a play mat, blanket or rug for short periods of time. Stay close to your baby so they know you are nearby. This activity is so important in the first few months as it strengthens you baby’s neck and shoulders, boosts their gross motor skills and prepares them for that all important crawl. Eek! Babies who spend more time on their tummies may be more likely to crawl before they are 8 months old so get prepared for the bottom scoot, classic crawl or a little commando crawler.
You can start by introducing tummy time for short periods of time up to two or three times a day and observe how your little one reacts to it. Slowly increase the time per session and the number of sessions you do each day to encourage developments as your baby gets older.
Newborns can also be placed on your chest or on your lap for tummy time, this is relaxing for your baby and allows you to bond together. As they begin to get older, you can aid tummy time by placing our sensory cards on the floor, or prop them up in our Flashcard Sleeve, or you can even try our Sensory Activity Book, which will not only help tummy time, but a whole host of other developmental milestones too!
Why Should My Baby Do Tummy Time?
It promotes physical development
Now, before you worry you’re going to develop a mini hulk, don’t. Tummy time helps the natural development of your little one’s gross motor skills and physical development. Not only do they enjoy playtime with you, but tummy time strengthens their upper body, specifically their neck, shoulders, back and core. Over the next few months, your little one will go on to roll, sit up and crawl all aided by these initial physical developments in early play. Tummy time will not strain or hurt your baby’s muscles, however not all babies enjoy the activity at first, so we recommend you follow their lead and start small. Begin introducing tummy time for short periods of time around two to three times per day and observe how your little one reacts to it. Slowly increase the time per session and number of sessions you do each day to encourage development as our baby gets older. (Tips for tummy time haters below)
It helps brain development
Your little explorer can use tummy time to observe and navigate their surroundings differently. Tummy time is helping your baby learn balancing skills as from this new perspective (looking out and upwardly) your baby can develop spatial awareness, which helps them understand where they are in relation to other objects. Your baby’s connections between the left and right side of their brain are strengthening! It’s a very exciting time.
It helps avoid flat head syndrome
Tummy time can be beneficial for babies with torticollis, a condition resulting in tight muscles in the neck. Tummy time combined with exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist, can help a baby’s tight neck muscles relax. Spending time on his or her stomach while awake can also help avoid ‘flat head syndrome’.
It’s great for bonding
Enjoy the closeness! Tummy time is a great time to bond with your baby, you can have lots of lovely cuddles and enjoy mutual gazing, which is so important, your baby may even give you their first smiles babies begin smiling between 2 and 6 weeks. Whilst your little one is engaging in tummy time you could also try stroking their hands and feet, and dancing around the room to your favourite song. Lie in front of them on a blanket and do peek a boo, all these fun things strengthen the bond between you both. (sibling)
What To Do If Your Baby Hates Tummy Time?
Although it can feel a bit daunting if your baby is not enjoying tummy time, don’t give up! If your baby cries when place on the floor, you can try the following positions:
Here are a few strategies that you can try:
• Burp baby in your arms or belly whilst you walk around the house.
• Burp baby on your lap whilst she is laying on their belly.
• Helping your baby to place their hand in a comfortable position may help. Arms should be bent with hands at the shoulders for early tummy time play.
• Asking an older sibling to join in. A fresh face may take the pressure off you, and the energy boost from seeing a child may be just what baby needs.
• Switch it up! Change the location so your baby has a view of different scenery.
• Put a rolled-up towel under his or her arms. Once baby gets used to tummy time you can get rid of this extra support.
• Massaging your baby’s feet, this can be great if your baby enjoys it and can encourage tummy time.
Toys To Help With Tummy Time
You can use some favourite tummy time toys to distract your little one during their play.
• Use simple rattles and high contrast toys to catch their gaze and encourage their to lift their head. We would specifically recommend a variety of items from our Baby Sensory range, specifically our Award-Winning Sensory Flashcards with use of our Flashcard Sleeve and or our Sensory Activity Book too.
We would love to know your thoughts on tummy time play & development and whether you have any tips for tummy time? Leave us a comment below!