20 March 2023
Tummy time is an important activity for strengthening your baby’s muscles, encouraging their development and reducing the risk of flat spots developing on their heads. Many babies dislike tummy time for their first few months, so finding ways to reduce discomfort and make it fun for your baby can really help.
Always supervise your baby during tummy time and never let them fall asleep on their front. Remember: back for sleeping, front for playing!
Tummy time needn’t always be on the floor. In fact, for newborns it probably works better to have your baby on your own tummy. By doing this, your baby gets the major benefits of tummy time while still being close to you. Simply lie down on your back and place your baby on top. Remember to hold them safe and make sure you’re wide awake, with no chance of dozing off.
At roughly 2 - 4 months your baby will gain the strength in their arms and shoulders to begin propping themselves up. To aid this, you can roll up a blanket or towel to place through their armpits and across their chest for support. This helps support them to hold up and balance their head. This is a nice move for including sensory stimulation, too, such as putting down mirrors or other visual stimuli. A note on safety - make sure your baby is not in danger of accidentally falling face down on the rolled-up blanket.
If your baby still dislikes being on the floor alone, try placing them on their front across your lap, using your leg in place of a towel to prop them up. This way your baby is still close to you but is getting that all-important workout of their neck and shoulders. Another benefit of this position is that it helps to ease trapped wind. The pressure on your baby's stomach, coupled with a gentle stroking of the back or bottom, can help with any discomfort.
This one’s for older babies who can support their own heads (typically from around 3 months) and are working on improving their balance. Lie on your back with your knees to your chest and position your baby on their tummy along your shins, making sure you keep a hand on their back to secure them. They’ll love it as you tilt them left, right, up and down and incorporate fun noises. This move helps develop your baby’s sense of proprioception, which is their understanding of balance and gravity. You can also try this standing up by holding your baby close and positioning them along your forearm. The added benefit is that you can walk around, providing lots of stimulation from the environment.
This isn’t a move but a good habit to get into. Wherever your baby is during tummy time, join them! A huge part of tummy time is interactions with loved ones, so make sure you’re making eye contact, talking and singing, mirroring expressions, providing things to look at, listen to and feel, and making the experience fun.