Is tummy time really that important for your baby? Dr. Katie Heathershaw, Fisher-Price™ PLAY IQ Expert explains.
Tummy time is the time your baby spends on their stomach while awake. It helps them to see the world from a different perspective and build the strength in their head, neck and upper body, in preparation for rolling, then later crawling, sitting up, standing and walking. Your baby spends a lot of time on their back while sleeping, often favouring turning their head to one side; so encouraging tummy time while your baby is awake can also help avoid developing a flat spot or misshapen head. It is a good idea to start with a couple of minutes of tummy time and build up to 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per day.
Tummy time is a lovely opportunity to share play time with your baby. Place them on the floor on a blanket or play gym and get down at their level. Stroke your baby gently on the back whilst singing their favourite nursery rhyme. Place some colourful, safe toys in front of your child within reach and view. For older babies who are starting to move, toys can be placed a little further away to encourage crawling. Another great idea for a reluctant tummy baby is a mirror, or a toy with a mirror, placed in front of their face so when they lift up their head they are rewarded by a glimpse of their own reflection! In warmer weather tummy time on a blanket on the grass, under the trees can be a lovely introduction to Mother Nature!
If there are sometimes tears during tummy time, don’t worry. It’s not at all unusual for babies to cry during tummy time, despite your best efforts. Sometimes tummy time may also be difficult if you have a baby who posits or vomits a lot. Try brief periods of tummy time and gradually increase – your baby will get the hang of it! If they don't like tummy time on the floor, try placing your baby on their tummy on your chest, so they’re not completely flat, and they will be rewarded with your smiling face when they lift up! Tummy time on a 'fit ball', or with a rolled up towel under your child’s chest is also worth trying. Nappy free tummy time can also be a fun (but potentially soggy) variation to try!
Remember, no matter what you do your baby will continue to develop and will invariably overcome any aversion they have to tummy time. Until then keep exploring different ways to have fun with your baby and enjoy watching them discover the world around them from new perspectives!
This article was published in association with Fisher Price.