3 Tummy Time Tips for Your Baby
From the minute your child is born “BACK IS BEST” is tattooed onto your brain. We are so fearful to reposition our baby on their belly that we forget how important supervised tummy time is to their motor development.
Positioning your child on their belly has many benefits such as: decreasing risk of flat spots on the skull, working on upper extremity and trunk strength, increasing coordination, and improving head control. In addition, the benefits of tummy time help prepare your child for gross motor milestones including rolling, crawling and sitting.
Tummy time can be intimidating, especially when your child begins to cry once placed on their belly. As with any skill, it takes time to become comfortable and build up tolerance to laying on your belly. Although there are no set guidelines, it is important to start tummy time as soon as your child is born. Start small with 3-5 minute bouts, multiple times throughout the day and work your baby’s tolerance to longer duration.
Make sure not to overtire your baby and look for signs of fatigue including crying, not holding their head up and attempting to roll onto their back. Also, always perform tummy time in a supervised environment and do not leave your baby unattended. Lastly, never place your baby onto their belly when sleeping. Here are three tips to promote tummy time into your baby’s schedule.
1. Assisted Tummy Time
When introducing tummy time for the first time, you may notice your baby having trouble holding their body up. To help your child hold their body up, place a Boppy Pillow or a hand towel rolled up underneath their chest area to give them more support. With the added support, your child does not have to work as hard pushing through their arms while holding their head up. As they get more comfortable with tummy time, take away the support. Place toys in front on your child to work on reaching and turning their head from side to side for some added skills.
2. Holding Positions
As with lying in the crib, we tend to carry our children on their backs with their heads facing up toward us. Try to incorporate other positioning holds into your daily routine including side-lying and prone. Side-lying carries are important to help build up trunk and lateral head musculature that are often used during tummy time activities. Be sure when working on side-lying to have your child positioned a couple minutes on both his left and right sides to ensure equal muscle development. Another holding position is on their belly. Great options to incorporate belly holds are burping your child while on their belly and lying chest to chest with your child. Be sure to give your child adequate support along their head and trunk by laying their belly along your hand and forearm and decrease the support as they get stronger.
3. Incorporate into Daily Routine
There are many opportunities to incorporate tummy time into your baby’s daily routine. As stated previously, turn your child over on their back to burp them. Another great opportunity to get them on their belly is after a diaper change- roll them over onto their back before picking them up. Lastly, after bathing your child, roll them from side to side and onto their back when drying them.