Your little one will need your help exercising from an early age to strengthen their neck muscles: And that is called tummy time!
Your first few weeks as a mother will be very important for the both of you: you will establish a unique bond with your baby, and you will learn to do tons of things. It’s going to be a huge adjustment! Besides, you will also understand how vulnerable your little one is: Babies aren’t able to hold their head up for a while, and tummy time is a mandatory exercise you will have to do with your baby every day.
In the following lines, you will be able to learn how to do it, and you will get some extra tips & tricks to help both you and your baby!
Why is tummy time important?
So what is tummy time exactly? It’s the name given to the exercise of placing the baby on their stomach so they can develop the strength of their shoulders, neck and head muscles. It is extremely important, because the skull of the baby isn’t completely developed by the time he’s born – which is why they have the soft spots or fontanelles. In order to prevent those skull plates to form a flat spot when closing, we need to make sure that the baby is in different positions.
When your baby is lying on his belly, he will try to lift his head to look at you, and that will make his neck muscles stronger. Besides, some studies state that tummy time will also help with crawling later on, as it will make easier for them to roll and stand on all fours, and it will improve his coordination skills.
When to start tummy time
Well, baby tummy time can be also called newborn tummy time, because you can start doing it very soon! You should ask your doctor when to start exactly, because it will depend on how your baby is and how he’s developing – for instance, premature babies will have a different schedule. There are also different kinds of exercises to do that will correspond to different ages.
And what moment of the day? Of course, your little one needs to be awake while doing it, and it’s better to choose a moment when he’s not hungry or tired, because, truth to be told… He’s not going to like it! Since the best baby sleeping position is on their backs (in order to prevent cot death or SIDS), they are not used to being on their belly.
Besides, avoid doing it right after he’s eaten, because being on his tummy with a full stomach may provoke vomiting or reflux, and will make him uncomfortable.
How to do tummy time
Here you have a few tried-and-tested tips to make the most out of tummy time for babies:
- Start slow: Don’t use the blanket at the beginning. Lay your little on his tummy on your lap, just for a few minutes.
- As your baby grows accustomed to being on his tummy, increase the amount of tummy time. For babies who are 3 or 4 months old, the recommended amount of time is 20 minutes at least.
- Never leave him alone: Your little one should never be unsupervised during tummy time!
- Encourage him: Cheer your little one with your words or by clapping your hands, and tell him how well he’s doing.
- Try different surfaces: You can also lay your baby on the bed, on your own belly for tummy time – he may like it better! Some babies enjoy using an exercise ball. You can gently place your baby on top of it and rock it, being very careful.
- Entertain him: Put toys in front of him, sign a song, or bring his older brother or sister into the exercise. You can also buy a mat with a mirror, so he can be amazed with his own little face.
- Join him: If your baby feels accompanied, he may put up with it better. Besides, he’ll like to see you on the floor as well – he may even think you guys are playing a game!
Do you need some more advice to help your baby do this important exercise? Here you have some more tummy time tips!
Well, now you have the tools to be an expert in tummy time! Let’s hope your baby ends up enjoying it, since it’s an important step towards his psychomotor development.