Tummy time is important for achieving a baby’s development milestones. When babies are on their tummies they start lifting their head up to look at what is in front of them. As they start to look around they push themselves up on their hands and this develops strong arm muscles too.
The next stage in development sees them push themselves up to their knees as they prepare to crawl. If they cannot get to this stage they may skip the crawling stage altogether which may not be helpful from a development perspective.
Many parents notice that their baby likes to roll from their back to their tummy. If your baby likes doing this then encourage it as it helps co-ordination too. If your baby rolls from tummy to back then this can also be useful as long as it doesn’t limit tummy time.
Top Tips for Tummy Time
- Start early – even newborns can spend some time on their tummy. Start with a few seconds and build up to a minute or so a couple of times a day. Lying face down on your chest is a good way to do it at first.
- Bounce older babies gently on your lap whilst they are lying face down.
- Get down on the floor with with them with a toy.
- Place them on a bean bag on their tummy. It can be more comfortable to get used to tummy time this way.
- If you have hard floor rather than carpeted ones, get a thick rug or an exercise mat to start tummy time.
- Gradually build – as your baby gets older gradually increase tummy time by a few minutes each week. Do lots of short sessions rather than one big one. Aim to reach a total of 80 minutes a day by 16 weeks old. For some babies this may be too much – so go with what they can cope with and gradually increase it as they get used to it.
- Make it fun for you both. If it becomes a chore then you won’t do it enough
Note:- It is important to supervise babies when they are on their tummies, especially when they are very young.