New parents are often encouraged to give their babies ‘tummy time’, but what is it and what’s the reason behind it?
If your baby is always on their back, they might get a flat spot on their head, but most of the time this will go away over time. It may also mean that their head, neck, and shoulder muscles aren’t getting enough exercise.
During tummy time, babies have to look up, left, and right to see people and objects. Moving their head around helps the development of their skull, as well as strengthening their neck, shoulders, and trunk. Later on, these muscles will let them sit up and their eye muscles will also get stronger as your little one looks around.
Babies who don’t get much tummy time may be slower to develop than babies who do. This means that it may take a little longer for them to reach major milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, or crawling. By giving your baby a chance to develop his or her muscles, you will be helping to stimulate your baby’s development.
Top tummy time tips
- Start by laying your newborn on his or her tummy across your lap two or three times a day for a few minutes.
- As your baby grows stronger, place him or her on a blanket on the floor, arranging age-appropriate toys within his or her reach.
- As your baby gets used to tummy time, place your baby on his or her stomach more frequently or for longer periods of time.
- For a 3 to 4-month-old baby, some research suggests aiming for at least 20 minutes of tummy time a day.
- Another option to make them more comfortable and confident would be to lie on your back and place baby on your chest.
- Place them on a soft mat on the floor, propping them up with a rolled towel or nursing pillow and lie down with them. Place toys within their reach, play games such as peek-a-boo, sing songs or make faces
- Do tummy time when baby is alert and happy; trying to force a baby into tummy time will result in negative feelings associated with the activity. Don’t be discouraged if at first your baby doesn’t enjoy it; if they are distressed being on the floor with them is a great way to calm them and show you are there for them.
To find out more about tummy time and how we encourage this in our Nest environments in the nurseries, contact your local nursery here.