When your baby is around one or two months of age, or when he starts to hold his head up alone for short periods of time, you’ll start hearing about tummy time and how important it is to incorporate it into your baby’s daily routine.
Tummy time is simply time that your baby spends lying on his belly while he’s awake. The reason it’s important to offer plenty of tummy time from a young age is that it greatly helps develop baby’s head, neck and shoulder muscles. It also promotes certain motor skills and helps prevent the back of his head becoming flat.
Babies should get around an hour of tummy time (not necessarily all at once) each day. Unfortunately, though, many babies don’t seem to like tummy time very much and will cry as soon as they’re placed on their bellies. Their muscles aren’t developed enough to make this position too comfortable, making parents less inclined to provide enough tummy time every day. While it may be difficult for babies at first, most parents find that their babies adjust very quickly and start enjoying tummy time in a matter of weeks.
Here are five tummy time tips to help you make the experience more enjoyable for baby.
1. Offer your company
Babies, especially very young ones, rarely find anything more comfortable than your loving arms. So being put down for tummy time seems far from ideal. Ease the transition into tummy time by sticking around and offering your company. Tummy time should always be supervised, but getting on the ground right next to baby, and even putting your face close to her face, can be a great way to keep her entertained and happy during tummy time.
2. Make it entertaining
While your presence might be entertaining enough, you can employ the help of toys and other objects that will keep baby entertained during tummy time. We love baby “gyms” that offer a variety of hanging toys for baby to stare at, and eventually reach for and grasp during tummy time. Small mirrors are great, as babies are typically fascinated by gazing at their own reflections. Some gyms, like the Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym from Fisher-Price, can even play music.
3. Make sure baby’s comfortable
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Sometimes, though, the soft mat, cushion or carpet that we place baby on for tummy time isn’t as comfortable for him as we’d hoped, and he’ll let us know. Try helping baby get more comfortable by placing a towel underneath the blanket or mat you’re using for tummy time. There are also a variety of extra-soft, padded cushions you can purchase made specifically to accommodate safe and pleasant tummy time.
4. Try tummy time on your lap
If baby absolutely hates being on the ground for tummy time, you might have more success offering tummy time on your lap, or even on your own tummy! Here’s a great video that walks you through alternative ways to do tummy time with your baby.
5. Do tummy time at the right time of day
If your baby is tired, hungry, or cranky for any other reason, that’s probably not the best time for tummy time! You’ll greatly increase the likelihood of baby tolerating tummy time by doing it at the right times of day, when baby is alert and content. It’s OK if this doesn’t happen at the same time every day. What’s most important is that baby is in a good state of being for enjoying tummy time.
It may take a while for your baby to start enjoying tummy time, but whatever you do, stay calm! If you don’t succeed in doing a full hour of tummy time every day with your little one, don’t worry! Just work your way up to an hour in small increments that work better for you and your baby.