Why Babies Need Tummy Time (& How You Can Accomplish It!)
What Is Tummy Time?
As a new mom, you have probably heard about the all important tummy time, but what exactly is it? Tummy time is just that, time that an infant spends on his or her tummy. This may seems silly and incredibly straightforward, but it is important to know what counts as tummy time and what does not.
To be considered tummy time, the infant needs to be awake! It’s important your little guy or gal move about while on their tummy so that they are giving their muscles a good stretch. That means that all those times that baby falls asleep on mom or dad’s chest unfortunately does not count as tummy time!
In case it isn’t obvious, tummy time must also actually be spent on the babies tummy. Sometimes as parents, when we are fighting our kiddos to stay on their tummy, we hope we can count any time they are not on their back as tummy time, but that isn’t the case. In order to work the correct muscles, tummy time must actually be spent with baby lying directly on his or her tummy.
Why Is Tummy Time So Important?
Tummy time is incredibly important for two reasons.
- It helps baby strengthen a variety of muscles throughout their body. These muscles are what helps your baby hold its head up, helps baby stand, as well as roll over! It is incredibly important that these muscles be used, stretched, and strengthened for proper growth and development.
- It helps keep baby from having a flat head (plagiocephaly). Plagiocephaly has become incredibly common ever since the AAP started recommending babies sleep on their back to combat SIDS. Back sleeping combined with spending the majority of their day on their back leads to the growth plates in the babies head shifting and becoming very, very flat. The best way to counteract all of that back time is with tummy time! If the flatness does not resolve itself, you pediatrician may suggest a helmet to help round baby’s head, so definitely get in all the tummy time you can!
Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?
- It takes work. Babies are used to a life of comfort. From the time of conception to the time they are born, mom does everything for them. Even lying on your back isn’t that hard when you have a comfy blanket wrapped around you and your loved ones holding you in their arms. Getting on the floor on your tummy, though, that’s hard. Baby has to work to keep his or her head up, move their arms, even to wiggle around. It’s a first for dear baby, and one that they don’t particularly enjoy!
- Everything looks different! Babies are used to seeing mom and dad, that’s about it. When put on their tummy, everything is at a different angle and they have completely new surroundings. Make sure that when you put baby on his or her tummy, at least at first, you are in their direct line of sight. This will help keep baby from getting so upset and give baby a sense of familiarity.
How Do I Do It?
Now that we know what tummy time is and why we have to make sure baby gets plenty of it, you might want to know the best way to go about it!
- Lay baby on a blanket. Chunker always liked having something fuzzy to snuggle up against.
- Utilize your Boppy! If you haven’t used your Boppy pillow before, it may come in handy now. Lay baby’s head on it so that they aren’t completely flat to the floor. This usually helps keep baby a bit more comfortable.
- Make sure baby is awake, and so are you! Baby needs to be awake and completely supervised for the safest and most beneficial tummy time. (I suggest adding tummy time to your routine right after baby wakes up, that way they aren’t grumpy to begin with and will probably be happier on their tummy for a longer amount of time.)
- It’s time to play! Once you have baby in the floor, keep him or her occupied to prevent an angry baby! We will show you how to do that below!
Fun Tummy Time Tips & Tricks
- Use pictures! Babies love looking at black and white pictures, as well as patterns. (Scroll to the end of the post to download the ones I have made for you – completely FREE!) Print out the images or pull them up on your phone/tablet so that baby can look at them while in the floor.
- Give baby a lovey! If baby has a specific item he or she likes, incorporate that item into tummy time. Lay it off to the side so that baby can focus on it, rather than get frustrated about being on his or her belly.
- Selfie time! Babies love mirrors. Get a small handheld mirror and put in front or to the side of baby. This will absolutely keep his or her attention.
- Read a book! There are some really awesome baby books out there. There are even some designed specifically for tummy time! It will keep baby busy while creating a terrific bonding experience.
- Mommy needs tummy time, too! Get in the floor with baby! Talk to your baby, tickle him or her, sing a song or tell a story. Let baby know they aren’t alone!
You’ve got this, mom! Tummy time can be hard, especially when babies don’t like it, but it is so important. Make a routine and stick to it. As baby spends more time on his or her belly and their muscles get strong, tummy time will get more and more fun. Keep up the hard work and before you know it your baby will be rolling around all over the place!
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