Our guide to fun tummy time
Tummy time is a hugely beneficial time for babies to develop their gross motor skills, that is large body movements using arms and legs. Time spent on their tummies will also help to strengthen the muscles in their neck, back and arms, the core muscles that are required for sitting and crawling later on.
Some babies really don’t like tummy time so it can be tricky to integrate it into their routine. It also feels pretty strange to put a tiny baby face down on the floor when they can’t so much as lift their little head. From experience, this is a ‘practice makes perfect’ scenario that requires a little perseverance. These tips will hopefully work just as well for your baby as they did for mine and encourage them to find the fun in tummy time.
Regular tummy time is recommended by the NHS from 3 months onwards, although we started earlier.
Here are our tips to make tummy time fun from the very beginning:
Start with a calm and happy baby
Make sure baby has fed (but not too recently) and is awake, alert and happy. Starting a new activity in a good mood is only going to work in your favour.
It might be tricky at first
When you first begin tummy time it will feel odd to put your baby on the floor on their tummy. Start by laying out a blanket on the floor and put your baby gently down onto their tummy. Lay down next to them so they can see you, talk to reassure them. Some babies aren’t so keen on tummy time and that’s ok, just persevere over time. You can also try laying them on their tummy in your lap.
Little and often is key
Even a minute or two will benefit baby’s development. Start with sessions of just a couple of minutes and build up over time. If they become upset or start to cry, pick them up and try again another time. Pop them down on their tummy a few times each day to help them get used to it.
Encourage them to look
Try using musical instruments to encourage them to look around for the source of the sound. Have a go at singing, clapping and talking too.
Try different textures
You can add different textures for baby to enjoy and make tummy time a sensory experience as well. We regularly alternate between knitted, silky and fluffy blankets. If you fancy getting creative, try our tummy time painting activity.
There are some brilliant toys available that are designed especially for tummy time. These often come in the form of a cushion in the shape of a cylinder or something similar. Use these to prop under baby’s armpits to raise them off the floor slightly, this gives them a better view and more inclination to look around and move their head. Don’t be tempted to use these all the time though, give baby a chance to put weight on their arms when they are ready and to push up from the floor on their own.
Babies often roll from tummy to back first when they are between 4 and 6 months (although every baby is different). When they start to show some signs of rolling you can encourage this by helping them to roll from their hips during tummy time, if they are used to spending time on their tummy it won’t be a shock if they find themselves there unexpectedly when they do begin to roll!
What works best for your baby when you have tummy time?