Tummy time is one of the most important stages of a baby’s development. This is because the skills and strength that your baby develops while lying on their tummy helps them to lift their head and glance around, roll over, push up with their arms, crawl, sit up, and eventually push themselves up to a standing position.
Most babies will eventually do it themselves, this does not mean that you should not encourage your baby’s development. Ideally, babies should spend most of their time on their tummies awake as compared to when in car seats, lying on their backs, on swings, or sitting in chairs.
Why babies are averse to tummy time
The main reason why tummy time is so problematic for babies is that they are not used to being on their tummy. More often than not, babies are put to sleep while on their backs in order to mitigate against the risk of Sudden Infant Syndrome (SID). However, with a little determination and encouragement, a gradual introduction to tummy time will help your baby get used to the idea and reduce discomfort whenever he/she is in this position.
The motor control that a baby gains from being introduced to tummy time enables baby to gain control of their head thus allowing them to visually explore their surroundings, then the shoulders, abdomen, and all the way down to the feet.
Tips on introducing your baby to tummy time
Whilst it is not advisable to place your baby on the floor as soon as you get home from the hospital, it should be encouraged from the very outset. Below, we take a look at 4 tips on how to begin tummy time orientation so that when it is time to put your baby on the floor, they will not be too upset or uncomfortable as follows:
Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding, you should ensure maximum skin to skin contact with your baby. Besides using this time to bond, you can also use it to acquaint your baby to lying on their tummy. For instance, if you are lying in bed with a pillow as a prop, you could place your baby on your chest so that he/she is leaning on you. And the result is that your baby will likely try to lift their head and look at you. Once your baby gets used to this, you can try lying flat on the bed.
Use a tummy time soft toy
These are can be purchased from a local toy shop. It is an ideal support for your baby to get used to being on their tummy. Begin by placing your baby in front of the soft toy and then gently leaning him/her on to it before rolling the support forwards and backwards slowly for several minutes. Baby will gradually get used to leaning over this support and he/she will begin to lift his/ her head and push up on their hands to gain more support. These tummy time toys are a great learning aid to help strengthen babies upper body. Make sure that the baby is fully supported when doing this and remember to take it easy. With each prolonged forward roll, you will notice that your baby will try to lift his/her head.
Playing air planes
Tummy time can also turn out to be a fun endeavour by turning your little one into a flying plane. To do this, lie on your back with your legs up and knees bent at a right angle. Then, place the baby on your shins making sure that his/her head is just above your knees as you provide support under the baby’s arms and brace for take off. Your baby will be comforted by seeing your face and enthralled at the air plane sounds and the sensations of slowly moving forward and backwards. This should also serve as an excellent workout for you.
Most people mistakenly believe that cuddling does little to develop a baby’s motor skills but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, whenever you are cuddling your baby in a stand-up position such that their head is above your shoulders as if you are winding them and at the same time allowing them to support their own head as much as possible, then this is exactly what you are doing. As your baby becomes stronger, you will notice that he/she will be able to hold their head up for longer periods and look around. And best of all, he/she can just cuddle you whenever they get tired.