Building up your babies strength is something that happens naturally through play and movement. It gradually happens until they’re able to hold up their own head, sit up straight, reach for the bottle – but there’s some muscles that they need a little extra help building up.
That’s where Tummy Time comes in. But what is it and why is it important?
Tummy time is a great way to help build your baby's upper body strength. It’s a really important exercise to help strengthen the back, neck and shoulders. It’s an essential part of baby’s development as it helps to build the muscles your baby needs for sitting and crawling - but many of them dislike it, which can be a problem, as it’s essential to build up these areas.
If baby doesn’t like Tummy Time, you can try lying your baby on your chest, or lap, putting some toys out within easy reach, talking, singing, interacting with your baby or propping your baby up a bit by putting a small, rolled-up towel under their arms to give them extra comfort and ease.
When and how do we start Tummy Time?
Tummy Time is safe to start from birth, but how you do it with a newborn is different than how you would do it with a baby that’s a few months old. For newborns, start doing tummy time by lying your baby on your chest (but only do this when you are wide awake and unlikely to fall asleep). Gradually increase the amount of time you do this day by day and wait until your baby is ready before doing tummy time on the floor. The NHS recommend starting off with three to five minute increments two or three times a day.
Introducing a little every day will allow you to build up the amount of time they spend doing it little by little. Little and often is the best way to approach it and be sure that baby is only practising it when they’re wide awake and alert. It’s important to be there to watch them while they do it.
What are some tips and tricks I can try to make Tummy Time easier and more effective?
Stay with baby: Tummy Time should never be unsupervised and you should be alert and keeping an eye on them while they’re practising it.
Start small: They don’t need to do it all the first day. Let them try it out little by little and see how much you can build up to very slowly. If they can’t do it for long periods of time, try to do it in small time periods, often. Nappy changes and after naps are a good time to try it out.
Make it enjoyable: Have toy from them to reach for, or lay out in front of them playing with them. The more stimulating and fun it is, the less likely they’ll fuss. Distraction is key.
Make the most of it: Get in your skin to skin contact time too while they’re on Tummy Time. Like on your back, tummy to tummy with baby and talk or sing to them, to bond and strengthen at the same time. Eye contact and body contact is good for them and will calm them down and entertain them, keeping them there for longer.