Tummy Time: Why Your Baby Hates It (and What You Can Do about It)
(Disclaimer: not a doctor, obvs, just an experienced mum of 2! Please listen to your child’s health provider)
OK, so what even is tummy time?
Tummy time is the time when you place your baby on his or her stomach while your baby is awake and someone is watching. It’s important because it:
Helps prevent flat spots on the back of your baby's head
Makes neck and shoulder muscles stronger so your baby can start to sit up, crawl, and walk
Improves your baby's motor skills (using muscles to move and complete an action)
So who needs it?
Newborns and infants 1-3 months old who are just developing neck control. Tummy time helps develop the muscles they'll need to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk. For safety, always stay with your baby during tummy time.
Older babies,4-7 months old They should still spend some supervised time on their bellies, even if they can roll over and sit with some help. Tummy time helps them practice lifting their head and chest further by straightening their arms. This strengthens arm, chest, and back muscles.
Start with 1 to 2 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day. Try to work up to at least 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day while baby is awake and alert. You may need to break the total into shorter periods, like 3-5 minutes at a time.
Arrrgh! I never seem to find time and my baby HATES it….
Yeh..... Some kids really don’t like it. And honestly, when it’s a monumental task to lift your little head to see, frustration is bound to creep in. Happily, We've got a few ideas that can help make tummy time more enjoyable for both of you and more likely to happen:
Try placing a rolled up blanket such as this one under baby's chest to help prop up the head and upper body (faceplanting on the floor isn't fun for anyone). As your baby gets stronger, encourage them to turn their head to the side while in this position.
Try different activities. Newborns are fascinated by high contrast / black and white pictures. Try printing our free tummy time images (grab them here), which are also great engagement for diaper changes. Once baby is old enough, you can put toys just out fo reach, so they have to move to get them.
Place baby on his or her stomach on your chest, so you're face-to-face. This is a great one for newborns and any time post partum (read: the first 18 years) when you need some horizontal time. Laying a light soft blanket over your baby's back can help him or her feel more secure. Not only does this position give you a rest, but you’ll both sneak in some extra snuggle time while your baby is propping themselves up to gaze at their favourite face.
Babywearing - our absolute hands-down FAVOURITE! Did you know that having baby in a carrier totally counts as tummy time? It almost feels like cheating! Babywearing allows both you and baby to get out and explore the world while strengthening those all-important muscles.
What tummy time hacks have you discovered? Comment below!