Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has lately focused the importance of babies sleeping on their backs, which reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, 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, tummy time helps 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 a 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 what is around them. One of the most important things to remember about tummy time is that children should be awake and alert and 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. To begin, play with your baby on their stomach a couple times a day for about five minutes at a time unless they become fussy. If your child really seems to hate laying in this position, continue practicing tummy time with them but only for a couple of minutes at a time and gradually increase the time they spend on their stomachs. Some parents have found that laying on their backs and placing babies on their stomach on top of their chests and talking to them has helped their children become more comfortable in this position. Research also suggests to increase your odds of having a successful tummy time session, you should do so after a nap or diaper change and avoid doing so right after a feeding.
You may also sense that one of the reasons your little one doesn’t like tummy time is because they are bored with it. Get involved and make it fun and interesting for them. There are numerous ways you can help engage your baby during tummy time and help their development. As mentioned before, getting involved yourself is a great way to get your baby’s attention and help strengthen their muscles. Either have the baby lay on you or lay down with your baby and talk or sing to them. Your voice will entice them into lifting their heads to look at you. You can also move toys in front of them to encourage their heads to move up and down and side to side. Another great idea is to create an activity area for them so that when they are laying on the bellies they are playing and staying engaged. Some parents have used mirrors so their baby could see themselves or activity mats that include lights, sounds and pop up toys.
What helped your baby adjust and enjoy tummy time?