Let’s talk about tummy time! We all know that it is so important for our little ones. We’ve heard about the benefits. It strengthens their trunk and neck muscles. It promotes movement of both sides of the body. Tummy time also helps drain the tubes between the ears and nose. This is important for helping prevent ear infections. However, not everyone is a fan of tummy time—both parents and babies. Riley was not a fan of tummy time. Olivia, on the other hand, finds it soothing and often will try to fall asleep while on her tummy. (We always want to do tummy time while our little one is awake.) I’ve heard parents say “we haven’t done a lot of tummy time because I just don’t have the heart to put them through that” or “it’s just so hard to see them so upset”. I’ve also heard adults say to the little one “are you going to be upset/angry with me if we do tummy time”. Our little one might not understand our words, but they do understand our tone. If we are apprehensive about tummy time, our little one feels that. Instead let’s change the tone. Let’s go into tummy time confident and excited because we know how good tummy time is for our little one. We can go in equipped with different activities to do to help make tummy time more enjoyable for all! Start out for short amounts of time frequently throughout the day and slowly build up the amount of time.
- Get down on your tummy and model: Your little one shouldn’t be the only one doing tummy time. Get down on the floor with them! Show them what tummy time looks like.
- High Contrast Cards: Babies enjoy looking at high contrast images. Put high contrast cards in picture frames or a stand and place them in front and to the side of your little one during tummy time. You can also hold it in front of them to encourage them to look up.
- Sensory Bags and Sensory Bottles: Encourage your little one to squish, roll, or knock over the sensory bags/bottles. If your little one isn’t ready to interact with the sensory bottles/bags, then you model how to play with them and talk about what you are doing and noticing.
- Rattle: Shake a rattle in front and to the side of your little one to get their attention. Moving the rattle around encourages your little one to track the movement. It can also encourage your little one to lift their head a bit higher.
- Story time: Your little one loves to listen to your voice. They enjoy watching the pages turn and hearing your voice change as you read the story. Face your little one while laying on your tummy and read a book to them. This allows them to see both the book and your mouth as you talk. This is important for language development.
- Mirror: Babies love to look at faces! Let them look at a mirror. They don’t know yet they are looking at themselves, but they will enjoy seeing the baby in the mirror!
- Water Mat: Use a water mat to help prop your little one up during tummy time as well as give them something fun to look at. The movement of the water mat also encourages more muscles to be working as they try to balance.
- Push away: While your little one is on their tummy, hold a pillow to their feet and give some resistance. Allow them to push off away from the pillow. This helps encourage forward movement and encourages crawling down the road.
- Pillow prop: Use a Boppy, lumbar pillow, or a rolled towel to prop your little one up during tummy time. This can help them lift their head up more.
- Chest to chest: Tummy time doesn’t just take place on the ground. Tummy time can also take place on your chest. When you are holding your baby chest to chest, this is also a form of tummy time. So hold your baby close and snuggle as you sing songs, talk about your day, or read stories.
- On our lap: You can also lay your baby down on your lap with their feet next to your stomach and head by your knees. This is a great time to rub their back and do a little baby massage.
- Reach for the toy: Place a toy in front of your little one within reach at first to encourage them to look up and reach for it. As they begin grab for the toy, move it back just out of reach. This is also a great activity to encourage crawling or rolling.
- Ball roll: Using a large beach ball or exercise ball, gently roll your little one back and forth on the ball while on their tummy. You can also do this activity on their back as well. Be sure to have a secure hold on your little one.
Note: Tummy time should always be supervised and done when your little one is awake. Make time for tummy time frequently throughout the day. The sessions don’t need to be long. They can be as short as 1 minute! We don’t want our little ones to associate tummy time with negative feelings so try to keep it fun and stimulating. If your little one is crying during tummy time, take a break and come back to it later. Tummy time is our little one’s workout. It is hard work, but so good for them!
- Gross Motor Development: Your little one is strengthening trunk, neck, upper body, and core muscles during this play.
- Sensory Development: Your little one is becoming aware of their different body parts as they use them and move them. This is stimulating those nerve endings in the muscles and ligaments.
- Language Development: We are constantly talking to our baby throughout the day which is important for their language development.
- Cognitive Development: All of these movements are encouraging more neural connections as your little one is becoming more aware of their body and surroundings.