The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you put your baby on their tummy to play during supervised awake time to strengthen their muscles. Tummy time helps your baby strengthen the muscles in their neck, shoulders, back, and hips that they use to achieve developmental milestones on time including rolling, crawling, sitting, standing, and walking. It can also help in the prevention of flat head syndrome. Back to sleep, tummy to play: sounds easy enough, but not all babies love doing tummy time. What can you do if your baby is not a fan?
1. Start Tummy Time early
If you are coming to this post for advice, we may already be a bit late, but it is important to know. Babies can, and should, do tummy time from day one. In fact, most babies do get tummy time on day one, by laying skin to skin on mom's chest right after birth. That's a great position for tummy time in the early days when your baby wants to be close. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to do tummy time with their baby from the first day home from the hospital. Babies who start tummy time from the first days of life are more likely to tolerate and enjoy being in the position. That being said, it's never too late to start!
2. Provide Many opportunities for tummy time throughout the day
In the beginning, it's not important to give your baby one long tummy time session every day. Tummy time should be done many times throughout the day, even if it's only for a minute at a time. All those minutes add up. Take advantage of using the things you are already doing to incorporate tummy time throughout the day: Time to burp? lay your baby on their tummy over your lap to pat out that burp. Need to carry baby to the next room with you? Carry baby in a tummy down carrying position. Changing baby's diaper or getting her dressed? Roll her over afterwards to get some tummy time in.
3. Make Tummy Time interesting
Get down on your baby's level to see what he can see from that perspective. Put an interesting book or toy at his eye level so he has something fun to look at. If you are down on your baby's level, your face will be motivation for him to pick up his head. Sing songs and talk to your baby to make it fun. Use a baby mirror so baby can lift his head to see the most fun person of all - himself!
4. Make Tummy Time Easier
If your baby is having a hard time picking her head up when she is on her tummy, you can help make it easier by putting a small rolled up towel or blanket under her chest. You can also use tummy down carrying positions to help her practice lifting her head up and strengthen her muscles to make it easier when she is down on the floor on her tummy.
Tummy time should be a fun way to play with your baby and help them strengthen their muscles for the next milestones to come. With a little practice, babies learn to love being on their tummy to play!