Tummy time is hard work and it is so much harder to see, feel or touch mom from the floor. Most parents I know also hate tummy time. They can't stand sitting there while their baby cries on the floor.
Well I am here to give you a physical therapist’s and a mom’s perspective on tummy time.
Below are a few tips and tricks for easy tummy time!
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5 BENEFITS OF TUMMY TIME
1. Neck strength and head control
2. Shoulder development
3. Jaw development and growth
4. Prevents flat spots from developing on head
This is called plagiocephaly. It can happen to babies that spend too much time on their backs or in "containers" like carseats, swings, etc. Click here to read more about avoiding baby getting flat head spots.
Tummy time will set the stage for rolling, reaching and eventually crawling.
And when should you start working on tummy time? As soon as baby comes home from the hospital. If you have not started tummy time yet with your baby, don't worry, you can begin today.
I have lots of ideas to guide you below!
Before we continue, just know that the American Pediatric Association strongly advises that babies should NOT be placed on their stomachs for sleeping.
HOW TO MAKE TUMMY TIME EASIER!
1. Baby on your chest
Put baby with her head on your chest so that you are belly to belly. Feeling your heart beat and body warmth can help her feel secure.
With baby on your chest, you can do tummy time with baby and you sitting upright, semi-reclined or laying flat. It will be more challenging for baby as your move closer to laying flat on your back.
Play around with different positions and see what baby is ok with.
2. Baby on your legs
Put baby across your legs so that her chest and belly are against your thighs.
If you cross your legs, baby's shoulders will be higher than her hips and will be easier for baby. If your legs are flat and baby is laying flat, she is working harder to lift her head against gravity.
Again just play around and see what baby likes and is ok with. You can also put a book or interesting toy on the ground, and baby will have a nice view from your lap.
3. Baby on therapy ball
Did you ever get one of those therapy balls to sit on at work instead of a chair? Or maybe your purchased one for labor? Well you can use it again for tummy time.
Baby can lay on the ball. You can shift the ball so that baby is totally flat or again with shoulders higher than hips to make it easier.
If you do not already have one, this I highly recommend this therapy ball.
4. Baby on nursing pillow
So maybe baby is ready to lay on the floor but gets easily upset with laying flat on her belly? Try a a nursing pillow under the chest.
This boppy pillow works well for this activity. Just place it under the chest below the arms at the armpits.
5. Baby on edge of bed
Her head should be close to the edge of the bed so she can peek over. You can sit on the ground in front of her so she can try and look up at you.
6. Apply Light Pressure at Baby's lower back/hips:
Pushing down gently at baby's lower back/hips will help baby to lift her head more easily. You can do this with any of the positions described above.
Newborns have heavy heads in proposition to the rest of their bodies. As you gently push down at her hips, it will transfer some of the weight down towards the lower trunk.
FUN AND SIMPLE TUMMY TIME ACTIVITIES
Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Babies love mirrors and are fascinated with looking at their own reflection.
For a young baby that cannot lift their head yet, you can place a mirror to the side that their head is turned to. For older babies that are starting to lift their head, the mirror can be in front.
8. Tissue paper
What a fun sensory experience for babies! The interesting feel of the paper with that crinkling sound can be a great distraction during tummy time.
As baby gets a little stronger and can prop on elbows (or using a nursing pillow under the chest), you can fill a baking sheet with water to let her splash around or even jut to look at, with a few floaty toys bobbing around.
This one can get messy, so either do it outside or on a surface that you can easily wipe up.
It is super important that you are present with baby for safety when water is involved. Even the smallest amount of water can be dangerous to a young baby if left unsupervised.
10. Water Mats and Sensory bags
My daughter loved this water mat for tummy time. It is essentially a mat filled with water and a few floating toys to create a fun sensory experience for baby.
Alternatively, you can make your own sensory bag for for similar activity.
How do you make a sensory bag?
Take a zip lock bag and fill it with water, or rice, or buttons, or glitter, or ice, etc. Make sure it is sealed tight and secure it to the floor in front of baby with tape. Babies that can prop on elbows and reach for sensory bag will especially enjoy this.
Well here are a few ideas to get you started!
If you are feeling overwhelmed, a good place to start is 15-30 minutes a day of tummy time. This can be broken up into several sessions.
You may find that at first, your little one only tolerates tummy time for 1-2 minutes at a time, and that’s ok! It WILL get easier, and there will be a day that your baby actually likes being on their belly, believe it or not!