The infamous “Tummy Time”. I secretly think most parents dread tummy time, or cringe when they are asked if their baby likes tummy time. As an OT, I cannot tell you how many times I hear that babies don’t like tummy time. I think it stems from a variety of reasons, and I hope I can offer a few tips to help you out!
Lets first go over WHY tummy time is important. Now you’re coming to my post and you know a majority of those things. It helps with strength, coordination, and crawling. Well I am here to tell you about all the HIDDEN GEMS of tummy time.
Did you know that it helps with sensory development, motor development, vision, body awareness, and most importantly head shape!
Tummy time helps with visual accommodation (which is so important with school and all this screen time). Accommodation is the eye’s ability to adjust when looking at objects from close to far away. If you think about it, babies are learning this skills as soon as you put them on their belly. Looking at their hands, and looking up at you or the environment around them! As they get older and their vision improves, it only gets more and more practice.
When it comes to sensory and motor development, that is where you see the most information online. Therefore I am going to keep it brief. Overall, it is going to help with your babies body awareness and promote the development of muscles for a variety of things like reaching and batting at toys, pushing up on their forearms, rolling, grasping onto things, and then supporting crawling and walking. The positioning for tummy time helps to develop core muscles, but it also strengthens the upper and lower body.
Did you know that tummy time is a huge tool for keeping your babies head the gorgeous and round?! Spending time on their belly helps with keeping your babies head nice and round. HOWEVER…… I love to recommend turning your baby around like a cooking rotisserie chicken. Especially for infants under the age of 3 months, placing them on their sides as well as their belly is so important for their body awareness but also for their head shape. Until they get rolling on their own, we as their caregivers need to help them get on ALL sides of their bodies. I will add a picture of a sweet baby on their side while playing when I get the chance.
Anyway you came here for tummy time right?
Tummy Time for Newborn to 3 Months
Did you know that babies laying on your chest and bonding counts as tummy time for this age? Its a great way to introduce them to tummy time and they typically love it! Starting on your chest and slowly weaning them down to a soft surface and then to the floor or their play mat! Even in a reclined position with them on your chest will help them with their head control and vision as well! If your baby has a hard time initially, keep the tummy time duration shorter, and do it more frequently. Keep trying to increase the time as they tolerate.
Tummy Time for 3-6 Months
Now its getting fun! Your baby has become so much more interactive and curious about the world around them! If your baby is having trouble at this stage, try utilizing a boppy pillow, or a towel roll underneath them. Look at the main picture I posted at the top of the page. Give them lots of things to interact with to keep them occupied and engaged. In my experience, sometimes the baby is fussing because of under-stimulation versus disliking the position itself. Don’t be afraid to keep the time shorter still and do more often, but as your baby gets older too they might roll out of tummy time a lot, so that’s why it is good to have some variety of toys to interchange to keep them engaged.
Tummy Time for 6+ Months
Hold on its a bumpy ride!! Your baby may be still enjoying some tummy time but are likely trying to move and groove in any way they can! Play mats are great but also encouraging them to move and groove on the floor, reach out for toys, and rolling around is encouraged. Before you know it they will be getting up on all fours and rocking and then progressing to crawling. If your baby is having trouble at this stage with tummy time and moving and grooving, feel free to reach out to me!