Here at Baby College we love to welcome new parents to our classes. Although the classes are filled with lots of different activities and games that parents can play with their babies at home, we always stress the importance of tummy time for their baby’s all round neurological and physical development. In fact, if there’s only one aspect of Baby College that parents take away with them it would, for Infants, be tummy time.
Tummy time is important as it helps develop muscle strength, vision, hand-eye coordination, learning about the world (360º) and integration of the left/right brain (as it should lead to crawling). It may also help prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck (positional torticollis).
Back to Sleep was the campaign launched by Anne Diamond in the 1980s. It has been incredibly successful in reducing cot death but it had the unexpected knock-on effect of also reducing the time that babies play on their tummies. We completely endorse the Back to Sleep Campaign but in class we encourage mums/caregivers to play with babies (both of them on tummies) and suggest that this is consolidated at home.
Babies are active from birth and can start having a small amount of tummy time from as early as one month old. Start by giving your baby just a couple of minutes on their front at a time, repeat this two or three times a day and gradually build up to a total of about an hour a day by around three months old. This hour shouldn’t be all at once but made up of short bursts across the day. Your baby will naturally try to lift their head to see what’s going on but won’t be able to hold their head up for long periods of time until around three or four months old.
Tummy Time Activities:
Under 3 months:
- Lie baby face down on your lap (you could do this when winding your baby)
- Lie your baby on your chest or stomach with their face near yours
- Lay your baby down on the floor and then you lie down in front of them and use a rattle to distract them and to encourage visual development.
- When standing hold your baby on their tummy (lying flat on your hand/arm, holding them securely round one arm and one leg)
Over 3 months:
- Practice Tummy Time in small time increments
- Use toys to encourage head turning and visual tracking.
- Encourage baby to practice rolling and moving while on their tummy: – use toys to motivate baby to reach and rotate on their tummy to get the toys
- Play peek a boo under a scarf or a blanket
- Use mirrors as babies love them
Always make tummy time a fun activity with smiles, songs, praise and lots of interaction.