10 Tummy Time Tips

10 Tummy Time Tips


Knowing how, when and why tummy time is important for baby is key to helping her development. Here’s what you need to know.

1 Tummy time is when baby lies on her stomach for developmental play. “It literally means placing baby on her stomach during awake times under supervision, it is one of the biggest gifts you can give your baby.

2 It’s important because it’s the foundation of all sensory and motor skills throughout life. The moment babies are born they start learning how to move their little bodies outside of the secure environment of the womb. They need to learn to use their necks, shoulders and arm muscles – and this all happens with tummy time. Consistent tummy time is one of the biggest contributing factors for improved motor function and development.” It prepares baby for rolling over (at around four months of age) and for crawling. It also encourages head control. When your baby starts to communicate (through vocalisations or facial expression) that she’s ready to transition
out of tummy time, gently tuck one arm underneath the chest and roll your baby onto her side and then onto her back.

3 Start tummy time right from birth.
It’s ideal to do it on mom or dad’s chest after birth. During this time you can talk to baby and manually (but gently) turn her head from side to side. Children develop through all the senses,
so from three months they can spend tummy time with toys around them that will focus on all the senses. Also, the earlier you start, the sooner you get baby used to spending time on her tummy.

4 If baby hates tummy time, don’t stress – it’s completely normal. Until babies can roll onto their tummies by themselves, they’re usually not very keen to lie in such an uncomfortable, immobilising position. The experience can be strange and scary (but essential) at first, so get down to her level and do face-to-face encouragement.

5 Make tummy time more enjoyable.
Entertain your baby while she’s on her tummy. This can be done with a toy, bubbles, or a happy mommy or daddy on the ground playing with baby. Use a rolledup towel under the arms for support, or fill a bottle with water, glycerine and glitter, and shake it in front of baby to amuse her. “Babies can be fascinated with their own faces, so tummy time in front of a mirror works well. Start off with just a few minutes here and there each day, and as your baby grows and gets stronger you can slowly work your way up to 40 to 60 minutes of tummy time daily.

The timing of tummy time is important. Do not do it straight after a feed (when her belly is full). Babies with reflux can be quite uncomfortable on their bellies, so plan their tummy time according to awake times when baby is neither too hungry nor too full, in order to help with the reflux.

6 There’s no need for fancy equipment. Simply put a clean blanket or mat on the floor and place your baby on her stomach.

7 Research suggests that four-monthold babies who spent at least 30 minutes a day on their tummies
scored higher on developmental tasks when compared to babies who didn’t.

8 Safety is always of paramount importance! Never leave your baby unattended during tummy time. Stay with her and keep her engaged, which is why it’s best to do tummy time when your baby is awake and alert. Also make sure that there are no small objects within reach that she can swallow.

9 This time is not only for baby’s stimulation but also an opportunity to enjoy quality time together. Encourage baby by saying things like, “You did it!” and, “Well done – you’re amazing on your tummy.” Pick her up afterwards to cuddle and hug.

10 Tummy time doesn’t hurt, but it can be frustrating for baby. Not only is she using her whole body, but she also needs to learn to lift her head – which weighs about 25 percent of her body mass at birth, making tummy time hard work. Try not to think of tummy time as just another box to tick – there are many ways your baby can spend time on her tummy throughout the day, and every little bit counts.

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