Tummy time is very important for helping your little one to develop their back, neck and shoulder muscles. It can also help them gain control of their head and can help to reduce plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome. So when do you start and how do you do it? Here’s some helpful tips to get you started.
When to start
It’s a good idea to start tummy time in the first few weeks of life, so baby gets used to it quickly. Always be sure that the site of the umbilical cord has healed completely beforehand.
How to start
When you begin tummy time, your baby is likely to have very weak neck and shoulder muscles, so placing them on a mat isn’t recommended. Start off by placing your little one on your chest and talk or sing to them. It will encourage your little one to try to life their head to interact with you. This is a lovely opportunity for parents to enjoy some ‘skin to skin’ time which will help with bonding.
In the beginning, only do these sessions for a few minutes. Once baby starts to cry or shows signs of being uncomfortable in this position, it’s best to stop. As their muscles get stronger, your baby will be able to lift their head to look at you and will be able to continue for longer.
You can do tummy time sessions 2/3 times a day to start off with. By the time your baby is 3-4 months old, they should be able to manage 5-10 minute sessions several times a day.
Always pick a time when your little one is calm and happy to do tummy time. If they are hungry, tired, or are fractious in any way, wait until later. Also, it’s best not to do tummy time on a full belly, for obvious reasons!
Babies can quickly become uncomfortable in the beginning, so stimulus is important to keep them engaged. You can talk or sing to your little one, or show them colourful toys to encourage them to raise their heads.
Comfort & Safety
Always make sure your baby is comfortable during these sessions. Use a blanket or play mat on the floor and always keep them supervised. As they become stronger, babies can accidentally roll over during tummy time so never leave them unattended.
You’re doing fine
Remember…not all babies like tummy time and may well protest. This doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. The more you do tummy time, the more your baby will become used to it, and will soon learn to enjoy it. You’ve got this!
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