One of the very initial physical exercises that your baby will get is tummy time for newborn, which is vital for developing strong neck, arms, and leg muscles and building upper body and core strength. First, let us understand what is tummy time for babies.
What is tummy time?
The time babies spend on their stomachs while awake is called tummy time. Tummy sleep, where your baby is sleeping on the stomach, is not tummy time. While on tummy time, your baby will try to pull their head up and balance on their forearms. Babies usually start tummy time right from the time they are newborn babies and continue with it throughout their first year till babies start crawling, cruising & walking.
When to start tummy time?
Until your baby does not learn to roll from back to supine and supine to back, it is not safe to let them have unsupervised tummy time. Having said that, baby tummy time can begin as early as when your little bundle of joy is just two weeks old. At this age, you can let them be on their tummy for 30 seconds at a time. You may start with putting your baby on their stomach to let their bum air dry before every reusable cloth diaper change for 20 – 30 seconds to bring this into the routine.
Initially, your baby might fuss a little and not like putting on the tummy. But once they gain the strength to lift their head, look around, and explore the world, they will start to love it.
What are the basics of tummy time?
• Till at least 4 – 5 months, give only supervised tummy time to your baby.
• Make sure your baby can hold the head up independently before starting tummy time unsupervised.
• Get a soft mat or a multi-layered changing mat to give tummy time.
• Avoid giving tummy time on the bed. Instead, choose a flat, stable, hard surface for tummy time.
• Get some toys for tummy time to keep your baby engaged and happy during tummy time.
• Tummy time after feeding can be tricky, especially while your baby is still exclusively on breast milk. Thus, ensure you supervise your baby if they throw up during tummy time.
• You can also make tummy time their diaper-free time to let their bum get some fresh air. Put them in Padded Underwear while they are enjoying their tummy time.
How to do tummy time?
• The best time to give your baby tummy time is between cloth diaper changes or when they are just up from their nap.
• Place your baby on a clean and flat surface. Tummy time helps strengthen the muscles and prepares your baby for crawling; it is best to give them tummy time on the floor.
• Surround your baby with their favorite toys to help them and encourage them to pull themselves up and ahead.
• Avoid putting your baby to sleep while on their tummy. This can be harmful and dangerous for them.
• Use tummy time to bond with your baby with books and story-reading sessions.
Ways to boost tummy time
• Get down on the floor with your baby, face-to-face or side-by-side. Doing tummy time alongside their parents can be fun for your baby, and they will enjoy it even more.
• Place an unbreakable mirror in front of your baby. It will be an excellent visual stimulation exercise for them; they can also see their fascinating faces and learn to recognise themself.
• Tempt your baby with some enticing toys.
• If your baby is still too young to pull themselves up, help them by propping them up by placing a Mustard Seed Pillow under their chest.
• Place your baby on your tummy while you lie on your back - this gives them safer and more guided practice for tummy time.
Benefits of tummy time
Have you ever wondered why all baby care experts and experienced parents talk about and advise tummy time? It has a lot of benefits for your growing baby. To list a few, the following are the benefits of giving tummy time to your little one.
• Helps prevent flat spots – When babies lie a lot on their back, and the head is constantly resting, some babies develop a flat spot on the back of their head. Giving them tummy time and putting them on their stomach several times a day helps prevent this situation.
• Allows your baby to work different muscles – It helps strengthen the muscles of your baby's neck, core, legs, and arms.
Tummy time sets the stage for motor skills like reaching for something, rolling over, sitting up, and crawling.
Tummy Time Moves
Try these basic moves while giving tummy time to your baby to prepare them for tummy time on their own.
• Tummy-to-Tummy or Tummy-to-Chest – Lie comfortably on a flat surface or a surface propped up with pillows. Safely place your baby on your tummy or chest so that you are tummy to tummy or tummy to chest with them.
• Tummy Down Carry or Football Hold – Put one arm under your baby's tummy and carry them on your arm tummy down. Support their head and neck with your other hand and carry them like this for a few minutes.
• Lap Soothe – Put your baby on your lap, so their face is downwards. You can use this position to soothe them or even burp them.
• Eye-Level Smile – When starting baby tummy time on a surface for the first few times, put the baby on the surface, and you, too, get down on your tummy at eye level with your baby. They will be encouraged and enjoy looking at your face while trying to pull themselves up.
• Tummy Minute – Finally, your baby is ready for some tummy time on its own. Put them starting with several seconds at a time, progressing to a few minutes at a go. Once this becomes a routine, they will love being on their tummy and exploring their surroundings.
What to do if my baby doesn't like tummy time?
Not every child might enjoy tummy time from the word go. Some might fuss, and some might even cry. So be patient and give them time to get accustomed to the new position and surroundings. But if your baby is still not coming around like tummy time, the following strategies might help.
• Try shorter durations – If your baby is not enjoying tummy time, start with just a few seconds at a time. Then, keep trying but keep the duration shorter until they get comfortable on their tummy.
• Try different locations - Maybe they find a particular surface uncomfortable or a particular scenery in front of them uninteresting. Keep switching the location, surfaces, and props till you hit the sweet spot.
• Get another kid to join – Maybe your child would love tummy time if there is some company of another kid around the same age as them.
A significant milestone, tummy time, can set your baby up for many other milestones. So, make it a fun time for them, and you too enjoy and have fun with them while they are on their tummy enjoying the surroundings.