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Tummy time is an important activity for babies that involves placing them on their stomachs while they are awake and supervised.
It’s recommended that babies start tummy time from birth and gradually work up to 30-60 minutes per day by the time they are three months old.
Tummy time should be done on a flat surface, such as a blanket on the floor, or on a parent's chest while they are lying down. It doesn't need to be done in a designated play room. It’s important to always supervise babies during tummy time to make sure they are comfortable and avoid them becoming overstimulated.
With consistent tummy time, babies can build the strength and skills they need to become active and confident explorers of the world around them!
Tummy time is an important exercise for babies that helps them develop and strengthen their muscles.
Laying babies on their stomachs allows them to use their neck, shoulder, arm, and back muscles to lift their heads and eventually push themselves up onto their hands and knees.
Strong muscles are crucial for the development of gross motor skills, which are essential for achieving milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and eventually walking.
These movements require a lot of strength and coordination from various muscle groups, and tummy time can help babies build the necessary strength to achieve them.
As babies gain strength and control through tummy time, they improve their motor skills. This allows them to begin actions such as reaching, grasping, and eventually crawling. These skills are essential for exploring their environment and developing their independence
One of the less discussed but equally important benefits of tummy time is that it can prevent flat spots on a baby's head. When babies spend too much time lying on their backs, the back of their skull can become flattened in a condition called positional plagiocephaly.
While this is common and can be corrected with proper care, it is still a concern for many parents. Tummy time helps to prevent this condition by allowing babies to spend time in different positions.
When placed on their stomachs, babies are encouraged to turn their heads and look around, which can help to distribute the pressure on their skull evenly and decrease the amount of time in the day the baby is on their back.
Tummy time provides babies an opportunity to lift their heads and look around, which helps to develop their visual skills, such as eye-tracking and depth perception.
Tummy time can help to relieve gas and constipation by putting gentle pressure on the baby's stomach whilst they tense their muscles to move or look around.
Tummy time is not only important for babies' physical development but also for their cognitive development, which can help them develop spatial awareness and visual perception.
As they engage with their environment, they learn to recognise shapes, colours, and patterns, which can help to improve their memory and attention span.
Furthermore, tummy time can also help to develop babies' problem-solving and creativity skills. By providing them with the opportunity to explore and interact with their environment, babies can learn to solve problems and develop creative solutions.
For example, they may reach for a toy that is just out of reach or try to figure out how to move in a certain direction. These small challenges can help to develop their problem-solving skills and foster their creativity.
Use colourful and various textured toys that will get your baby interested, place them in front of your baby during tummy time and move them around or place them within reach.
This will help stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage them to reach for the toy. They are more likely to enjoy time spent on their stomach if they are in an enriching environment with fun distractions.
Playing music during tummy time can make it a more enjoyable experience for your baby. Choose music that is soothing and calming to help them relax, or for older babies use fun nursery rhymes to sing along to and engage with.
Sit or lie down in front of your baby so that you are at eye level with them. This will help them to feel more comfortable and engaged during tummy time.
It is also a great bonding experience for both of you!
Give your baby lots of positive feedback during tummy time.
Smile, clap, and cheer them on to make it a positive experience for them.
Use tummy time as an activity to tire your baby out before putting them down for a nap.
After a bath or between nappy changes, place them on their tummy naked and give a little massage with moisturiser or coconut oil.
Babies love looking at themselves in the mirror, so placing a small mirror in front of them can help keep them entertained during tummy time
It's important to remember that every baby is different, and some babies may take longer to enjoy tummy time than others. If you follow the tips and advice given above to make tummy time more interesting.
Be patient and persistent, and don't hesitate to seek help from a paediatrician or OT if you have concerns about your baby's development.
If your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy tummy time, you may need to begin with short sessions multiple times per day to gradually get them used to it.
It's important to remember that tummy time helps babies develop important muscles that they need for rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking.
So, while it's not necessary to do tummy time every day, it's a good idea to try to do it as often as you can and for as long as your baby is comfortable with it.
If your baby really hates tummy time, you can still encourage the development of those important muscles through other activities, such as carrying them in different positions, practising seated play, and providing plenty of opportunities for movement and exploration.
It's never too late to start tummy time with your baby! While it's best to start tummy time early on, starting later can still have many benefits for your baby's development.
If your baby is already a few months old and you haven't started tummy time yet, it's okay to start slow and gradually increase the duration and frequency of tummy time sessions.
Start with just a few minutes a day, and gradually increase the time as your baby gets more comfortable and stronger.
Tummy time can be started as early as day one for your baby, as long they’re born healthy and at term.
Start with a few minutes at a time, increasing the length of time as they get stronger and continue up until they’re able to independently roll between their stomach and back (typically 6-7 months of age).
It's generally recommended to wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before starting tummy time.
This is because if your baby is lying on their tummy with a full stomach, it can increase the risk of discomfort or vomiting.
Try the tips and advice stated above to increase the chances of your baby enjoying tummy time.
Remember that every baby is different, and as long as your baby is growing and developing on track, there's no need to stress too much about tummy time.
Just do your best and try to provide plenty of opportunities for movement and exploration in other ways.
In summary, tummy time is very important for a baby's growth and development. It helps to make their muscles strong, improve their ability to move around and prepare them for rolling over and crawling.
While some babies may not enjoy tummy time at first, there are many ways to make it fun and interesting.
Even if your baby doesn't like it, there are other activities that can help their development. Just remember to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Written by Laura Agrimi, mother of 2 and owner of Grace & Maggie.
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