Tummy Time: What, Why, How?
Perhaps, to most of us, “tummy time” brings to mind many images of our favorite dishes and treats, but to new mothers, it should mean something else entirely.
What is baby tummy time all about?
Planning tummy time for your baby can make all the difference when it comes to his growth and development. It is about supervising your baby while lying on his stomach across several sessions per day. As opposed to letting him sleep on his stomach the whole night or during nap hours, which isn’t recommended. It should take place for limited time periods throughout the day till your baby reaches 6 months of age. You can include several sessions (3-5 minutes, for example) that add up to 40-60 minutes daily. The duration of the session will depend on your baby, his tolerance and what you want him to achieve.
Why Should Babies Spend More Time on Their Tummy?
There are several reasons why your baby should spend more supervised time lying on his tummy. Here are some of the various benefits that you should know about:
- It works upper body muscles, allowing for proper head control and torso stability.
- Helps babies use their arms, neck, back, and head.
- Strengthens back and legs.
- Helps babies gain skills for crawling, as it pushes them to experiment with reaching for objects and rotating their bodies.
- Aids development of physical movements, like: rolling over, sitting up and lifting the head, as baby’s muscles become stronger.
- Helps prevent flat spots at the back of babies’ heads as well as Torticollis (caused by stiff neck muscles).
How to Spend Quality Tummy Time with Your Baby?
If you’re wondering how your baby can start to reap all these benefits of tummy time, here are some recommendations:
- Start by placing your baby on your chest or stomach while lying on your back. You can also start by placing his, belly-down, on your lap. This serves as a very good introduction to tummy time.
- Help develop a routine by making tummy time part of your baby’s day to day activities. You can do it for a little while after each diaper change, while towel drying them, or while applying lotion.
Don’t get frustrated if your baby acts uncomfortable at first. That’s very normal because he/she will still be lacking the strength that’s needed to help them maintain that position comfortably. Try again at a later time and stay consistent until they gradually ease into it. Eventually, it will get much easier for you and him, as he gets stronger.
Making Tummy Time More Fun
Tummy time doesn’t have to be a troublesome or boring activity for your baby. These are a few things that you can do to make it more amusing:
- Read to him. Storytelling is good for your baby in general and will keep him/her entertained while they’re on their tummy.
- Hold a toy in front of your baby. Not only will it attract his attention, but will develop his skills of reaching for objects and lifting the head.
- Ask a family member to join. You can both talk or sing to the baby, or just simply lie down in front of him. These simple things can get him excited and encourage him to use their muscles more as they engage with you.
- Place a plastic mirror in front of your little one to intrigue him to lift the head up.
You can also help support your baby by
- Rolling a thin towel or blanket and placing it under his chest.
- Afterwards, put his arms over it with his hands stretched in front.
- Make sure that your baby’s chin is always in front of the roll to avoid any airway blockage.
- Also, always keep your baby supervised if you’re going to use such props to support him.
-The American Occupational Therapy Association