Not everyone does tummy time with their babies, but it is SO IMPORTANT.
Tummy time is just laying your baby down on his or her belly. Obviously, infants can’t control their neck muscles. Laying them on their bellies strengthens those muscles, as well as many others. Building your baby’s muscles prepares him for sitting up, crawling, and eventually, walking. It’s especially important to strengthen those neck muscles because babies are more likely to suffocate when they cannot move their faces away from soft objects.
Here are some tips/facts for tummy time:
- First, you should know that most babies hate tummy time. So be prepared for some screaming. Don’t let tummy time go much longer after the screaming starts.
- Being on the belly is important, but only while your baby is awake! Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs! Sleeping on the tummy has been linked to SIDS (until the baby can toss and turn on his/her own).
- Supervise tummy time to make sure that your baby can breathe and doesn’t put anything in his mouth when he is able to.
- Your baby’s head should be less flat when given sufficient tummy time! yay!
- As an infant, lay down with your baby on your chest for a minute or two, a few times a day (definitely more than once). Hold your baby against your shoulder when sitting up as well. When your baby is ready for the next step, place your baby across your legs for a few minutes, several times a day.
- As your baby gets older, put him or her on a comfortable blanket on the floor and extend the amount of time. You’ll be able to read your baby’s cues to know when tummy time is over. If he is laying his head down and not picking it up when you know that he can, he’s probably done.
- Give your baby something to entertain him! You can give him a book or a toy. Black and white pictures are especially interesting to babies. A standing object that encourages your baby to lift his head higher to see it is a great idea. Where I work, we glue a black and white picture onto a coffee can. They make tummy time mats that you can buy as well.
- To give your baby a little help, roll up a towel and place it under his arms to hold his chest higher off the ground.
- Do tummy time when your baby is in a good mood! Make sure diapers are changed and bellies are full.
- Tummy time too soon after a feeding could cause your baby to throw up, especially if he has reflux. Wait a little while after a feeding! Some parents don’t need to wait at all, some say that 15 minutes is enough, others say to wait 45 minutes.
- To work on crawling when your baby is a little older (around 6 or 7 months), put some toys just out of reach. Push against your baby’s feet to make it easier for him.
- Keep your baby interested by staying involved. Get in front of your baby and talk to him and look at him so that he will try to look at you. Babies like to look at faces more than anything else! Especially mommy and daddy faces.
- You can make your own tummy time mat! I like this one I found on Pinterest, by Musings of a Married Mom! It’s waterproof on one side and has toys attached to it.
Featured image from Thetot.com.