Tummy Time – Encourage Tummy Time With Our Tips
Switching a baby’s position frequently also prevents a flat spot on the head, which has become a common problem since the AAP began recommending placing infants on their backs to sleep.
I got a late start on tummy time with my three month old daughter. I didn’t realize we were supposed to start it immediately, so I only started placing her on her tummy about a month ago.
However, she did spend a lot of time belly-down on my tummy while nursing in her first month of life, and her neck muscles were very well-developed right out of the womb. She was holding her head up right from the start! I imagine our inadvertent tummy time during nursing sessions also helped with her core muscle development.
Now that we’ve started a tummy time routine, my daughter hates it! I can see that she gets frustrated because she wants to do things (like crawl) that her body just isn’t ready to do. The most she will tolerate is a few minutes at a time.
Browsing various parenting forums, I discovered that this is a common problem. If your infant can only tolerate tummy time for a few minutes at a time, break it up into short sessions. Try placing her on her tummy for a few minutes at the beginning of every play session. I recommend doing it at the beginning, when she’s fresh and relaxed, rather than tired or frustrated.
There are other things you can do to make tummy time enjoyable:
- Get down on the floor with your baby. This will help her feel like she hasn’t just been left alone on the floor to struggle.
- Hold a toy in front of her, giving her incentive to lift her head and try to move forward.
- Use a Boppy pillow to prop up your baby, that way she doesn’t feel like she’s smashed flat against the floor. Also, don’t be afraid to position her arms so that she is most comfortable, until she learns how to do this herself.
- Make tummy time more fun by singing a song or saying rhymes, so your baby will look forward to this one-on-one time.
- For smaller babies, conduct tummy time on your chest, the way I did in the first month. Lie flat on your back and place baby on her tummy on top of you.
- The requisite reminder: Do not leave baby alone during tummy time, and do not leave the baby on her tummy if she falls asleep. Always place a baby to sleep on her back.
Six 5-minute sessions of tummy time a day will bring you up to the recommended 30 minutes.
But don’t worry if all your baby will do is two minutes at a time.
For instance, with just a handful of 2-minute sessions every day, my daughter is barely up to a full 10 minutes of tummy time a day. But yesterday, she reached an important mobility milestone. I placed her on her tummy for a few minutes while we were playing and I lied down on my tummy next to her. She happened to be in a very good mood.
I brought her favorite toy “Ducky” down with us, as well. Ducky cheered her on with quacks as she made swimming motions with her hands and legs. She tried to grasp the blanket she was lying on in order to pull herself forward.
After a few minutes, she leaned up on her left elbow and decided to change her situation. With a significant amount of grunting, pushing and flailing, she rolled herself over onto her back! Then she gazed up at me with a look of surprise on her face, as if to say, “How did I get into this position?”
Since then, we’ve had four more tummy time sessions, and she’s getting more frustrated than ever. She’s trying to roll over again and it’s not quite working. It’s as if she’s thinking, “I did it once, why can’t I do it now?”
I’m honestly surprised she rolled over so quickly, given how little time she’s spent on her tummy. It just goes to show, babies develop at their own pace and every baby, regardless of how much tummy time she has, will eventually learn all the skills she needs to become a fully mobile toddler.