Tummy time is a great expression used by parents and experts alike. It is a period when your infant is building up their first real muscles. As the team at “What to Expect,” warns though, placing your baby on their tummy time mat may cause them to “squall indignantly,” because they are not strong enough to easily lift up their heads. Of course, the tummy time mat might also become a favorite place where your baby is “cooing happily,” the entire time.
The thing to remember is that any time spent face down on the tummy time mat is time spent helping a baby “develop motor skills that eventually lead to crawling,” and that means it is always a good activity.
Tummy Time Defined
Technically, a pediatrician or developmental expert would say that tummy time translates to the act of laying your infant on their stomach in order to play. It forces the baby to lift their head and will eventually inspire them to push themselves up from the baby play mat on to hands and knees. They will start crawling and swaying while they develop coordination, and all of the time on any baby crawling mat will eventually translate to walking.
When to Start
Of course, lots of parents are unsure of just when they should start to layout a tummy time mat and encourage the baby to begin using the neck, back, arm and leg muscles. First things first – a baby must never go face down on their baby play mat if they are not fully awake.
However, it is entirely safe to have tummy time almost as soon as a baby is home from the hospital, i.e. a newborn can enjoy monitored tummy time for a few minutes a day. Parents are encouraged to work up to no more than 15 minutes a day (such as three, five-minute sessions on the tummy time mat each day) to begin building strength. Use
What is Tummy Time Exactly…How Is It Done?
Talk with childcare experts or pediatricians, and most give the following advice about “how” to best do a tummy time experience:
- Wait until a baby is freshly changed, and wide awake (i.e. right after a nap)
- Place them on a premium tummy time mat designed to ensure safety and cleanliness
- Put favorite toys around the perimeter to encourage the baby to look and even creep towards the toy
- Lay the baby on their tummy and pay attention to any difficulties they have withholding up their head. If their face is pressed into the floor or they accidentally bang their face or forehead, make sure the baby crawling mat has a bit of padding or protection beneath it (not too much, just enough to cushion their face)
- Try to keep the baby in tummy time for about two to five minutes, and up to three times a day
- As a baby’s strength increases, you can lengthen their time on their mat, and watch as their progress increases to crawling and then walking
- Never place a sleeping baby on their baby crawling mat in the belly-down position when the baby is asleep. This puts them at risk for SIDS, injury and other issues
And are there any ways that a parent can boost the value of time spent belly-down?
How to Bring More Benefit to Tummy Time
down on a baby mat, as they develop, a parent can enhance the benefits enjoyed in tummy time. We recommend:
- Laying on the floor, face down and interacting with your infant in that same position
- Use your own tummy as a tummy time mat if you are eager to encourage more movement or simply enjoy a bit of one on one
- Always switch the toys used to tempt a baby, and you’ll see the greatest level of interest and activity
- Place a child-safe mirror opposite the baby and allow them to see themselves and develop more hand-eye coordination as well as awareness
And what if you think your baby won’t benefit from tummy time? Well, experts would tell you that those few short minutes on the tummy time mat daily will stop a baby’s head from getting flat spots, will develop a whole array of unused muscles, and it sharpens motor skills.
If your child seems to really hate tummy time, it could be that the towel you are using is not comfortable and a proper tummy time mat is needed. You can also follow expert advice from the team at The Bump, and Take a couple of days or a week off, and try again later. You’ll likely see success after you take a breather… As long as they are doing some [tummy time], it will have some benefit,” and that’s really what it is all about!