Tummy time refers to the time your little one spends on their stomach while awake and supervised. It’s an essential part of your baby’s physical development and helps set them up for other important milestones, such as crawling, sitting upright and rolling over. When introducing your little one to tummy time, here’s what you need to know.
When should I introduce tummy time?
As long as your baby is awake and supervised, tummy time can begin from their very first days at home (given there are no health complications). Start by incorporating a few sessions in your little one’s daily routine, 3 to 5 minutes at a time, and slowly increase the amount each day. As they get older and stronger, you can place them on their belly for longer stretches, gradually building up to 10 to 15-minute sessions a few times a day. However, be sure to keep an eye on your baby at all times and feel free to take breaks if they’re finding it difficult.
Why do babies need tummy time?
Since babies spend a lot of time on their back during sleep, tummy time gives your little one the chance to try a new position and helps prevent a flat spot developing on their head. Tummy time also improves motor skills and helps your baby build head, neck and upper body strength. Over time, these muscles will eventually allow them to lift their head and reach other milestones, like crawling and sitting upright.
What if my baby doesn’t like tummy time?
If your baby becomes fussy or restless during tummy time, try changing the location and activity. If they don’t like being on the floor, lie down and place them on your chest while you gently play with their hands and feet. You can take this time to softly rock them, sing songs or rub their back. Your baby’s tolerance should increase as they grow older and stronger.
Helpful tips for tummy time:
- Try and encourage tummy time after your little one wakes up from a nap or after a nappy change. Avoid tummy time after a feeding, as this may place too much pressure on their abdomen, causing them to spit up.
- Create a safe and soft environment by clearing an area of the floor, placing them on a playmat and surrounding them with a few favourite soft toys.
- Lie alongside your baby and accompany them by talking, singing or reading.
- As your baby begins enjoying tummy time, work your way up to longer and more frequent sessions throughout the day.
Remember, always stay with your little one during tummy time. If they become sleepy, be sure to place them safely on their back in the cot or bassinet and always follow safe sleeping practices.