Walking is over-rated. Sitting up is for suckers. Tummy time is all the rage and if you get your baby on this bandwagon, everything else will fall in to place! It is sooooo important to a baby’s development. By simply placing your baby on his/her tummy to play, you are setting the stage for natural motor skill development. Reaching, rolling, creeping, crawling, everything that is critical begins with the tummy! Tummy time — do it!
So, why is tummy time “all that?”
- Building the muscles of the trunk, shoulders, arms and the arches in the hands
- Preventing flattening of the head (plagiocephaly)
- Building a good balance of flexor and extensor muscles
- Supporting the development of rotation patterns that your baby needs for eventual sitting to play, crawling and walking
- Place your baby on a firm surface, like a carpeted floor or by draping a blanket on the floor
- Make sure your baby is alert and awake for tummy time
- Even when you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you can do a version of tummy time by having him lie on your chest during waking times
- During floor time/ tummy time play, you can also include some time on your baby’s side to encourage using both hands together at midline. Put a “boppy” pillow behind her or lean her back against the soft edge of the sofa base.
- Put a mirror and/or some fun toys on the floor for your baby to look at or reach for. You can also hold a toy at eye level, so that your baby can practice reaching and grabbing.
- Incorporate Tummy Time into natural routines by placing your baby on her tummy on your lap after a bath, when applying lotion or when burping your baby
- Have a sibling sit in front of your baby to encourage and entertain her while she’s on her tummy
Don’t do this:
- Exersaucers, standers and other baby positional equipment is not great. In fact, use of this gear can result in your baby developing a muscle imbalance or abnormal motor patterns. Minimize time when your baby is “in” something and maximize allowing him to use his own body. Give him the freedom to explore on the floor. Like Braveheart — Freedom!!!
- No tummy time at bedtime or nap time. The American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends “Back to Sleep.” Place your baby in a supine position (wholly on the back) for sleep time until he reaches one year of age.
- Don’t force it. If your baby is distressed or seems to have “hit her limit” with tummy time, give her a break and try again later. Build up slowly — maybe 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times per day for young babies, building up to 3-5 times a day totaling 45-60 minutes for older babies.
Now, start building up that baby of yours! Tummy time is where it’s at!