The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but ‘tummy time’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It really is just time for your baby to spend on their tummy! Aside from being fun, it also helps them develop their muscles and sets them on the track for rolling, sitting and crawling. So how do you start tummy time with baby?
First things first, consider how awake you’re both feeling. Nobody expects you to be full of energy when you’re caring for your newborn. Take it at your pace and start when you and baby are ready.
ready, steady, slow
Possibly my best piece of advice for you here is to start slow. Like most things you introduce to your dear little one, it might feel very new and strange to them at first. Post-nap play sessions are prime time for some belly wriggling as they’re more likely to feel rested and receptive. And as placid as they may be after a feed, save yourself some cleaning and hold off for an hour. If you don’t, you might find that they bring up some milk up from the pressure on their stomach!
When you’ve found a time that works for you both, roll out their favourite snuggly blanket on a clear patch of floor. Lay them gently down on their tummy for a few minutes, doing so a few times a day. As they grow in size and strength, gradually increase this time but go at your baby’s pace. And if they need a bit of support try a tummy time roller under their chest with their arms outstretched – try picturing Superman.
preparing for the paddies
If they don’t love playing on their tummy from the off, there are ways to cheer them up and encourage them. Seeing your face can bring great comfort to them so getting down to their level should provide reassurance. And it never hurts to get their favourite toy involved too!
Another option is to lie on your back with baby on your chest. It really is important at this point that you’re feeling alert. Hold your baby close and encourage them to look up which helps to build their neck muscles. Try telling a story or singing a song to get their attention. With a bit of trial and error, it should be a bonding and rewarding experience.
making tummy time fun
One of the best things you can do for your baby is to keep tummy time interesting. That means finding different games to play or new toys to bring out occasionally. If you find a firm favourite though, just roll with it (sometimes literally). For those with a playmat or gym, detach the toys they love most and put them just out of their grasp.
Encouragement is another key part of the activities. You can show your tot how it’s done by joining them on the floor and reaching out for a toy. When they manage to stretch and grab one, share their excitement and praise their efforts. Anything you can do with actions and sounds will keep them engaged while they’re on their tummy.
Another tool of the trade is a tummy time roller. In addition to providing support underneath baby, they’re often brimming with things for your little one to discover. Perhaps there’s a crinkly lion, a rattling teether or a baby-safe mirror; all of these will stimulate their senses and improve their hand-to-eye coordination. Playing with the roller also helps to encourage them to sit and crawl which are other important milestones on their way to walking.
the benefits of tummy time play
While fun is the name of the game, tummy time really is important for your little one’s physical development. It encourages them to lift their head, strengthening their neck and enabling them to look around. Goodness knows there’s plenty to see! As such, it also promotes their visual development as they learn to focus and track movement.
Their gross motor skills will get a boost as well. Reaching for their favourite baby toys builds their arm and shoulder muscles which they’ll certainly need for rolling, sitting and crawling.
And that’s the “lowdown” on tummy time (pardon the pun). It really is a wonderful opportunity to bond while helping baby’s development too. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your wriggle on!