Why is Tummy Time important to your baby?
The reason we recommend tummy time more these days is because we need to find ways to encourage back, neck and upper body strength in babies, because they spend their sleeping hours on their back.
Back sleeping is recommended as part of creating a physically safe sleep environment for babies. Back sleeping has only been recommended since the 1990’s so that is why your neighbor or mother say “we never needed to do all these things in my day”!
Today tummy time is important to build the necessary muscles for head control, rolling, sitting, crawling and standing in later months.
What is tummy time?
It is just what it says; the time your baby spends lying on their tummy. However, it is not that simple. Newborns can’t hold their head up because it is such a large heavy part of their body so, if you place a baby on their tummy on a mat on the floor, they will either nose plant, or just keep bobbing up and down and bumping their head on the floor because the muscles we are trying to develop … are not yet strong enough to hold up that heavy head!
How to ‘do’ tummy time – make it a nice experience
- The best time for tummy time is when your baby is awake and content (don’t try if when baby is hungry)
- Start for just a 10-30 seconds in the first couple week of life, maybe 2-3 times a day.
- Build the time up to 1-2 minutes by the time your baby is 2-3 weeks of age.
- For starters just lay your baby across your knee and allow them to lift their head.
- If you want to lay your baby on the floor, just place them on a rug and place a rolled towel a under your baby’s chest.
- Place your baby so their chest is on the towel and their arms are up over the rolled towel so when their head drops their head doesn’t hit the floor!
- Another lovely place for tummy time, is on you! Yes if you baby doesn’t like tummy time, it will definitely feel more tolerable if you are the one they are lying on.
- STAY with your baby during tummy time.
- Try lying down with your baby so they are still feeling okay.
- Soothe your baby by talking and gently stroking them.
- Make it interesting as they grow more; give them toys to look at, or read a book. even use a plastic mirror so they see their own face.
- Use a variety of locations – avoids boredom.
- It is important to do it a number of times a day rather than for long periods once a day.
When baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time…
- Try lying with your baby on you rather than the floor.
- Some babies tolerate being held while having tummy time on a fit ball.
- Keep in physical contact during tummy time; touching, back rubbing, foot or hand massage.
- Vary the location.
- Babies who have reflux, tolerate shorter times only, so do them more frequently.
- Be creative with positioning but be sure you ALWAYS stay focused on your baby (ie. not facebook time)
As your baby grows so will their tolerance of tummy time so they will be able to play on their tummy for up to 15 minutes at a time eventually.