Tummy Time for Your Babies: How to Do it?

tummy time

Your newborn baby should be sleeping on their back for 14 to 17 hours. However, there is one exercise that they need to do for a few months for improved motor skills i.e. tummy time.

This brief moment in the day that babies spend laying down on their stomach helps to visual and sensory development.

Moreover, their neck and shoulder muscles strengthen and it develops your child’s motor skills till they start to crawl.

That said, your child may not necessarily like it.

This article discusses how you can have some meaningful tummy time so that it helps your child develop some essential skills.

baby's tummy time

What is Tummy Time and Its Importance

Lying your baby on their stomach is tummy time.

This allows the baby to practice how to lift their neck as it is strengthening muscles.

As a result, this is what teaches your child how to sit, crawl and even walk.

However, it is important to remember that your child should always be awake while doing so.

Tummy time is essentially playtime so your child can play on their stomach but should sleep on their back.

Never, do it the other way around.

Not only should your baby be awake but you should be around them monitoring them.

benefits of lying down on stomach for babies

Benefits of Tummy Time 

  • It develops motor skills

During the first three months, giving your child enough tummy time helps to strengthen their muscles and neck control.

Their back, core muscles and shoulders strengthen alongside too.

This allows your child to learn how to roll over, sit, crawl and walk.

Plus your child will learn how to lift his head by using muscles other than those present on their back.

This will make muscles in their arms, upper back and shoulders.

Hence, assisting them in achieving baby milestones.

  • Prevents flat spots

If your baby is always lying on their back then their head is prone to flat spots formation.

Therefore, lying on their stomach for a while prevents the back of the head from having these flat spots.

This exercise improves their tactile sense as they can feel different textures.

They are no longer only lying down so they feel the blanket and the carpet not only on their back but also on their cheeks, arms and hands.

Plus as your child starts to move around, their weight shifts so they gain proprioception.

This is the awareness of balance, location and posture.

What’s more, it also develops their vestibular sense.

That means, they can develop balance as well as movement through this exercise.

  • Improves Vision and Coordination

Your child develops hand-eye coordination as they look down at their hands.

This allows them to understand how their hands move and what the hands can do.

These benefits allow your child to slowly lift their head, chest and bring their neck muscles in movement.

Plus, sensing and using their vision to differentiate between things.

It can also prevent newborn hiccups at times.

So now you know the importance of exercise.

Let’s find out how can safely perform it on your child.

practicing baby lying on stomach

How to Do It?

Well, the best time to do the exercise is when you have just changed your baby’s diaper.

You can also do it after they have had a nap.

For a newborn baby, place them with their stomach down on your chest.

You can also do tummy time on lap by placing them across there for a few minutes.

Repeat it twice or thrice a day.

They will try to lift their head.

As a result, it strengthens their neck and core muscles in their shoulders.

However, for older babies, you can try laying them down on the floor with a blanket, mat or carpet.

Clean up a small area, place a towel or blanket beneath them and lay them down on their belly.

To keep your child engaged, put their favorite toys beside them.

You can extend the time that they are in the position.

Usually 3 to 5 minutes, twice or thrice a day is enough.

If your baby starts to get fussy then you can quickly move them away.

However, if they are feeling good after they are changed, well slept and fed then they may enjoy it.

As they start to enjoy it you can increase the time duration gradually.

Though, it is important to remember that you should never do the exercise when your child is asleep.

Prevent them from falling asleep in that posture too.

It can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Your child should always sleep on their back.

Besides that, make sure that you are always with them when they are lying on their stomach.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to lay them down on a flat low surface.

Don’t leave them on a sofa or bed where they could roll over and risk suffocation.

tummy time position

Tummy Time Position and Moves

Tummy to Tummy/Tummy to Chest

Lie down and prop your head up using a set of pillows.

Either lie on the floor or a bed.

Put your child upside down on your chest or your stomach in a face-to-face position.

Hold your child firmly in place.

Lap Soothe

Place your child with their face and tummy down on your lap.

Plus you can keep them steady and soothe them down by keeping one hand on their bottom.

What’s more, it also helps your child to burp.

Football Hold 

Keep an arm under the tummy and between their legs.

The other should support the neck and head area while the first hand is carrying the baby’s stomach down.

Your child will need some time accustoming to this position so nestle them closely to your body.

Other than the positions, make eye contact with your child.

Get down to their eye level so that they can see your face clearly.

This will give them comfort and calm them down.

Plus this is also a bonding moment for both parents and the child.

Start from just a minute and make your way up by the end of 3 months.

So after every diaper change or a short nap, you can lie your baby down for a minute or two, several times during the day.

baby enjoying tummy time

How to Boost Tummy Time with Your Child?

If your child is a little fussy about the exercise, you can try certain ways to keep them involved.

Give Them Toys 

By keeping their favorite toys beside them, they can remain engaged by playing and reaching out for them.

This is a way to entice your child to lift their heads and use their hands to reach out for the toys.

Playtime strengthens their muscles when they reach out for the toys which eventually aids in sitting and crawling.

Your Baby Should See You

Maintain eye contact, get on their eye level.

You can either lay them down on your stomach or chest.

If they are lying down on the floor then lie down along with them so that they can see you clearly.

Chat, play and comfort them.

Prop Your Child Using Pillows 

If your child is initially fussy to do the tummy time then make their posture a little more comfortable.

Prop a pillow below their chest or arms so that they can settle in a comfortable position.

Then slowly start to wean them off from these.

Put an Unbreakable Mirror 

Seeing their own face and actions can be very fascinating for children.

Hence, set a mirror right in front of them or to a side so that they can note their own actions and expressions.

You can use all of these to ensure your baby enjoys tummy time.

However, if your baby still hates it, they will clearly indicate it to you.

What to do then? Let’s find out below!

baby lying on stomach in ground

Making Your Child Hate It Less

If your baby hates tummy time initially, no problem!

This is actually quite common.

They can end up liking it after a while when their muscles start to build up and they can lift their heads.

Hence, you can start by only putting them in the position for one minute and then gradually increasing the time.

Soon they will get used to it and then you can increase the time.

You can also massage your child’s feet so that they are not fussy when lying on their stomach.

Plus, do not make them sued to a single location.

A change in the scenery and the ambiance around them is sometimes enough for them to keep the exercise tolerable.

Plus if your child feels pressure with you, get their sibling to lie down with them.

They can make the activity interesting and even play with their sibling so they enjoy the tummy time.

Finally, 

Tummy time sets the base for several other baby milestones.

Your child will start to lift their head up to 45 degrees by 3 months and 90 degrees by 4 months.

In no time they will cross 9 months and begin to crawl.

A few months later, you will see them walk too.

Hence, even if for a few minutes, lay your child down on their belly so that they can gain muscle strength and sensory as well as visual skills.

 

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