The Importance of Tummy Time
As a new parent, you’ll often hear how important it is to give you baby some tummy time during the day. This isn’t always as easy as it seems as many babies protest any time that they have to spend on their stomachs. There are several reasons why you need to keep attempting tummy time, no matter how much your baby is grumbling! Tummy time is going to help your baby develop their back, neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. It will also help in the development of their balance and movement abilities. Tummy time is also very important for reducing the chances that your baby will have a flat spot on the back of the head. Lastly, encouraging your baby to spend time on his or her stomach will let them look at their world from a different vantage point which in turn will keep their little head thinking that much more.
The Best Time to Start Tummy Time
You’ll want to start your baby on tummy time from the moment you bring them home from the hospital. Even newborns should be placed on their stomachs for a couple of minutes a few times a day. At first, make sure that you limit tummy time to just the minute or two. Babies will instinctively lift up their heads when they’re on their stomach. This will tire them out very quickly and in the first few weeks might just lead to a lot of frustration. The last thing you want is for your baby to start crying the second you put him down on his tummy!
Tummy Time Tactics for Newborns
Since newborns will tire very quickly when you lay them down on their stomach, why not try a few different positions until your baby is strong enough to lift his head more easily. Try carrying your baby face-down with your arm holding him up under his stomach. Another great position for tummy time is lying down yourself and putting him on your stomach. This way your baby will have to look up to see your face. These different positions will allow your baby to feel more secure and safe as they gain strength in their neck and arms.
Making Tummy Time Easier for Both of You
Even you have to admit that just lying on the floor on your stomach isn’t a lot of fun. There are things that you can do to make tummy time easier for your baby and less frustrating for you. First of all, make sure that you have the timing right! Many times your baby will start to cry the minute you put him on his stomach. Don’t frustrate him even further by just leaving him lying there all alone. This will only make him fight any future tummy time sessions! Instead of making a big deal out of tummy time, introduce it as a new and fun game. Always remember that your baby’s attention span is extremely short. This means that as soon as he starts fussing you’ll want to pick him up and give him a cuddle.
Getting Down with Your Baby
Make sure that you get down on the floor with your baby. Sit down on one side of him and then call to him or sing a song. This will encourage him to turn his head towards you. You can also try lying down on your stomach right next to him. Talk softly to him and so that he knows that you’re there with him. Change your own position frequently to encourage him to move his head. If you notice that he prefers to hold his head to one side, try to do more activities on the other side so that he starts to use both sides equally. As your baby gets older you can roll up a receiving blanket or towel and put it under his upper arms and chest to help prop him up a bit. Put some toys on the floor in front of and to the side of your baby so that he has something to look at and try to reach for. The key to fun tummy time is doing things a little differently each time so that your baby starts to anticipate that something fun is going to be happening when he’s lying on his stomach.
Your Older Baby and Tummy Time
Once your baby is about four months old he’ll be quite active. Most babies will start to roll at about this time. They often do what is a called a pivot turn, where they stay on their stomach and turn their bodies around in a circle. These motions are important as they move towards learning to crawl on their tummies. By the time your baby is between four and six months he’ll have gotten used to tummy time and will no doubt be enjoying all the time you spend on the floor playing with him. Remember that all babies are different and what works for one doesn’t always work for another.