With babies being so weak and unable to move themselves easily, it’s important to encourage safe tummy time while your baby is awake. This helps with the development of important muscles, while also taking the pressure off your baby’s head. This tummy time guide will provide you with the information you need to achieve the best results.
The Best Age to Start Tummy Time
Your little one can start having tummy time within the first few weeks, as long as they are awake, alert, and supervised by you. When doing so, make sure they are on a safe supportive surface such as your arm or crossed knee or even on a changing mat on a table. Start with small periods of tummy time and increase as they become used to it. If your baby is on a high surface, don’t leave them unattended.
Tummy Time Exercises
There are various things you can do to encourage the benefits of tummy time for your little one. When babies reach around 3 months of age, they often start to push up on their arms. This is a great achievement as it means that their arm and shoulder muscles are developing nicely. You can encourage this by holding an exciting toy above them, motivating them to look upwards and use their arms to push themselves up towards the toy.
When your baby is around 6 months old, their muscles will have developed and strengthened even further and by this time most babies will have started to roll over on their own. A good exercise to try with your little one is placing a toy a little way in front of them, but at eye level. This encourages your baby to stretch out their arms and reach for the toy, encouraging greater development of their muscles.
These tummy time exercises help to develop and strengthen your baby’s neck, shoulder, arm, and back muscles. With these exercises, it’s important to keep it fun to keep your baby engaged. If you’re holding toys too far from them, this can result in them becoming frustrated and discouraged. Play is very important for babies and gives both playmates a real buzz.
What to Do if Baby isn’t Co-operating?
It’s quite common for babies to be unsure about tummy time at first. It’s a new experience for your little one, but perseverance is key. Start off with only a couple of minutes of tummy time to get them used to it, and steadily increase this over time.
For babies that don’t take to time on their tummy well at all, you can start tummy time when they are in your arms. This technique means that they are in the comfort of your hold while experiencing being on their front. This can be a good way of getting them used to tummy time before being placed on a surface.
When your baby is having tummy time on the floor, start off by getting down to their level. This helps to reassure them, particularly if you’re talking to them and encouraging them. Distractions are a good way of making them more tolerant to it, so making sounds and noises are a good thing to do during their tummy time play.
Including tummy time in your baby’s daily routine is a great way of getting them used to it as quickly as possible. If you always start tummy time after a certain event, such as a nap, your little one will quickly start to expect it.
Safety During Tummy Time
The surface you place your baby on for tummy time is extremely important and needs to be safe. You can’t run the risk of them falling off a surface, like a sofa, and so placing your little one on a low surface or one that has all around protection is best. It is recommended to place your baby on top of a blanket or towel on the floor for tummy time.
If you have other children or any pets, make sure your baby is out of the way of them during tummy time. However, it’s also important that you are with your little one at all times while they are on their tummy. If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, turn them onto their back for a nap.
If your baby experiences reflux, avoid starting tummy time straight after feeding. This is uncomfortable and can result in them bringing their milk back up.
Flat Head Syndrome
We encourage parents to do tummy time for a couple of reasons. Not only is it important for the development of important muscles, it can also help to prevent a flattening from occurring on their head. Tummy time provides a period of time that pressure isn’t being applied to parts of your baby’s head. When babies are on their back or in their car seat, pressure is being applied to their head and can result in flat head syndrome. It’s good to have a break from this to help prevent a flattening or encourage a flattening to disappear.
Keep up to date with our blog for more tips for parents. If you have noticed a flattening on your baby’s head and would like to get advice, book a free appointment at one of our clinics.