The Importance of Tummy Time
And what you can do to make sure your tot gets the most out of it
If you’re a new mama, chances are, you’ve heard the words “tummy time.” And you may have wondered exactly what those words meant – after all, aren’t all babies supposed to sleep on their backs now? Well, yes – but that’s exactly why tummy time is so important. Allow us to explain.
What Is Tummy Time
Tummy time is essentially allowing your tot to spend time lying on their stomach while they’re awake. Because doctors now recommend that all babies sleep on their backs, to reduce the risk of SIDS, tummy time is more important than ever. One of the consequences of babies always sleeping on their backs – although it’s the safest way – is that they tend to be slower to develop gross motor skills that allow them to sit up, push up, roll over and crawl. Some babies even develop flat spots on the back of their heads, known as ‘plagiocephaly’ or ‘flat head syndrome’. So doctors now recommend that babies – from as young as one day old! – spend time on their tummies every single day.
When to practise tummy time
It’s never too early to start tummy time – in fact, most doctors recommend you begin placing your tot on his belly for a few minutes every day from the day you get home from hospital. For the first few weeks, and only when your baby is awake and alert, try placing your him on his stomach on a hard surface, such as the floor, for just two to three minutes at a time, several times a day. Slowly increase this amount until your baby is spending 15 uninterrupted minutes each day on their tummy.
It’s important that your tot is comfortable during tummy time. Don’t place them on their stomach if they’ve just eaten, or if they’re hungry (around 30 minutes to an hour after feeding is best). Do tummy time when your baby is feeling settled – putting your tot down while they’re crying will only enforce a negative association with the practise!
How to get the most out of tummy time
Some moms say that their baby doesn’t like tummy time, but it’s important to persist, even if your baby fusses. Some ways to encourage your baby to love tummy time include:
- Getting down there with him. Lie on the floor on your tummy, opposite your baby. Talk to him, sing, read a book or show him toys.
- Use props. A firm, rolled-up towel underneath your baby may help them feel more comfortable.
- Try laying her on your tummy – you can do this in the bath, too, if that helps your tot.
- Give your baby something to do when she’s on the floor. Place a board book in front of her, or perhaps some soft toys or even a mirror.
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The best toys for tummy time
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