Learn more about tummy time and how to make this important developmental experience more fun and comfortable for your little one!
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These days babies spend a lot of their time in carriers, car seats, and strollers. Add to this the increased awareness of the “Back to Sleep” campaign that promotes sleeping babies on their backs to decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and what’s the result?
Babies are spending too much time on their backs and not enough time on their tummies! Read on to find out why positioning your baby on his tummy for play throughout the day (Tummy Time) is so important for healthy child development and learn how to make it fun for your little one!
Why Tummy Time?
Positioning your little one on his tummy gives him time to practice and develop eye hand coordination as he looks at and reaches for desired toys and objects that are in front of him. He may even start inching and scooting forward to get to his favorite rattle or stuffed animal!
Allowing babies to play on their tummies also gives them a chance to push up on their hands and arms. Holding the weight of their bodies this way helps them develop strength in their hands and upper bodies. This is the foundation for later development of fine motor skills like grasping a pencil and holding scissors.
Babies are born with protective primitive reflexes. In typically developing children, these reflexive behaviors begin to disappear naturally as they engage in play and movement experiences. Tummy time is one important motor experience that helps babies begin to grow out of these reflexes, giving way to purposeful, controlled, and coordinated movements of the body.
Tummy time is also an amazing sensory experience for little ones. When they’re positioned on their tummies, babies get all kinds of great tactile and proprioceptive sensory input on their hands, trunks, and legs. This kind of input gives important input to babies’ brains about how and where their bodies are moving in space.
So we all agree that Tummy Time is a big deal when it comes to babies’ development, but what do the babies think? In truth, most babies don’t love being put down to play on their tummies because, frankly, it’s hard work! Almost all babies will whine, cry, and even scream as soon as they are placed on their tummies. But don’t worry, there are ways to make Tummy Time more fun and comfortable for your little one!
*These activities should be closely supervised by an adult at all times.
Forget the Floor!
Who says Tummy Time has to take place on the boring old living room floor? While the floor is a great option too, there are other ways to make things a little more interesting for your little cutie!
-Lying in a reclined position, rest the baby on your chest and sing or talk to him. He’ll love being able to see your face up close and will get the benefit of great strengthening work as he lifts his head to peek at your face.
-Try holding your little one on his tummy out in front of you on your forearms. He’ll love the different vantage point as you carry him around, showing him different people and things around the house – even his reflection in a mirror!
-Lying on your back on the floor, bend your legs and place your baby on your shins, face-to-face with you. You can sway gently from side to side or bounce your shins gently to keep him engaged and happy.
Tummy Time Ideas
You’ll always want to stay close to your baby during Tummy Time, for safety’s sake. But be sure to get yourself in on the action too! Lay on the floor facing her so she can lift her head to see your face. Talk to her, sing to her, and make soothing sounds. Siblings are great for this too because there’s nothing a baby loves more than watching the “big kids”.
Even though babies should never sleep with blankets, pillows, or cushions in their beds, it’s okay to use these things as props for Tummy Time as long as you’re close by to supervise. Roll up a small towel or blanket and place it under your baby’s chest for extra support or prop him up on a Boppy Pillow. Raise him up on a pillow or cushion so he can see and interact more with his environment. Older babies might even like trying Tummy Time on an exercise ball (with you holding on carefully, of course!). Check out our favorite toys and props for Tummy Time!
Make it Fun!
One of the best ways to sell your baby on Tummy Time is to pull out all the stops when it comes to entertainment. Get out his favorite toys, books, and rattles. Musical toys are perfect for getting his attention and mirrors are also great fun for little ones!
Check out all of our information about developmental milestones babies, toddlers, and preschoolers here.