Many families understand the importance of babies sleeping on their backs, which reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, but it is also important to understand the reasons why your child should be taking part in tummy time when they are awake and alert. Due to the fact that children are spending more time on their backs, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants participate in tummy time to help relieve the chances of them developing a flat spot on the back of their heads. More importantly, having your baby lay on their stomach helps them strengthen their upper body muscles. Tummy time is crucial in helping your baby master basic skills such as lifting their heads, rolling over, sitting up without support, and even crawling.
Parents may be surprised to learn that a baby who did not have any complications during birth and does not have any health issues can begin working on tummy time once they are brought home. Your baby will not be able to hold their head up for very long, but they will begin to naturally lift their head so that they can see their surroundings. One of the most important things to remember is that infants should be awake and alert during tummy time and they should always be supervised.
It is likely at first that your infant will not enjoy laying on their stomach, however, as they become stronger, they will become more comfortable in this position. You may also sense that one of the reasons your little one doesn’t like tummy time is because they are bored with it. At Educational Playcare, we ensure each day is filled with fun, which is why it is one of our Core Values. Here are 5 ways to help make tummy time more fun and enjoyable for your infant:
- Get involved: Your infant loves to spend time with you, so get down on the floor and engage with them. Some families have found that laying on their back and placing their baby on their stomach on top of their chest and talking to them has helped their infant to become more comfortable in the position.
- Read or sing: While your baby is laying either on the floor or on you for tummy time, sing them songs or read them a book. Your voice will entice them into lifting their heads to look at you.
- Break out the toys: Moving toys in front of them during tummy time will encourage them to move their heads up and down as well as side to side. Families often use mirrors so their child can look at themselves and their surroundings. We suggest also trying toys or a playmat with lights, sounds, and different textures for an enjoyable sensory experience as well.
- Give them a lift: Sometimes infants respond better to tummy time when they have a nursing pillow or a rolled-up towel beneath their chest. This gives them a little boost off the floor which encourages them to use their upper body more.
- Practice: Although this may not make each tummy time experience better at first, in the end it will help. If your baby really seems to hate being in this position, start off with only doing tummy time for a few minutes and then gradually increase how long they are on their belly each time after that. Practicing, in addition with fun sensory experiences, will help your child begin to enjoy tummy time more.
What activities helped your baby adjust to and enjoy tummy time?