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How to encourage tummy time and why it's so important.

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

Tummy time is something that often comes up in new-born and baby massage classes. Parents worrying that their little one just doesn’t like being on their tummy! Read on for tips and tricks and to find out why it's worth persevering.

Tummy time can be started from new-born and should only be done when baby is awake and alert, never when sleeping.

Always put baby down to sleep on their back and follow the safe sleeping advice available from the lullaby trust.

Initially your baby may find lying on the floor a little scary and you might want to start off with your baby lying on your chest and you lie down flat. The chest to chest position allows the infant an opportunity for gravity to help them uncurl from their foetal position. They will lift their head to look for your voice and face - which at this tiny age they find great comfort in. Just holding your baby upright in a ‘burping’ position does not count as tummy time as the ribcage is not baring much weight, nor do they have to work as hard to lift the head and look around.

How do you move on?

As your baby becomes stronger and more comfortable with tummy time you can move to lying beside your baby. Your little one may be more comfortable if you roll a towel or small blanket into a horseshoe shape, propping up their chest and allowing their arms to hang down and reach out. Make sure there is something interesting and worth reaching for nearby! A baby safe mirror works well!

It's best to start little and often. Your child may only enjoy tummy time for 1-2 minutes and that’s just fine. You can try short burst of tummy time multiple times a day and before you know it your baby will tolerate 10-15 minutes each time building to a total daily target of an hour by 3 months and continue daily until your baby is crawling.

But why does tummy time matter so much?

Tummy time will help your infant develop strong neck and shoulder muscles as they lift their head to look around. Evidence also suggests babies eye muscles strengthen during tummy time as they enjoy to gazing around at the new perspective. The torso strengthens, developing posture and building the foundations of gross motor skills such as rolling, sitting and crawling. As well as the physical milestones that tummy time impacts it can also help to prevent Plagiocephaly more commonly known as flat head syndrome.

Tummy time should form an important part of your babies daily routine but it should also be fun! If your baby isn’t enjoying tummy time give these ago

  1. Come down to your babies level so the can make eye contact with you.

  2. Perform baby massage moves on their back or feet.

  3. Use props such as a foil blankets or my newest favourite resource these mystery balls made by Tickit. Your baby will love to study their own reflection and seeing yours will entertain them even more!

  4. Sing songs and play peekaboo games

Remember that all babies develop at different rates but if you have any concerns about your babies development make sure you seek advice from your HV, GP or other relevant medical professional.

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