Get Set for Tummy Time
Tummy time is one of the first exercises you can begin with your baby to aid their growth and overall development. Simply put, this refers to time spent by your baby doing different activities on their stomach when awake.
For infants, the benefits of tummy time are immense. It helps avoid flat head syndrome. and helps your little one develop skills that are needed to achieve various development milestones in the first year, especially gross motor skills like rolling, sitting up, crawling and standing up. All these involve core muscles in the head, neck, shoulder and arms; and it is this set of muscles that get strengthened during tummy time. Apart from motor skills, this also develops awareness to sight, sounds and textures. Varying positions during tummy time helps vestibular balance and body awareness.
For a baby, tummy time is almost equivalent to doing a mini push-up! They are not used to holding their head up against gravity, so here are some tips that can make tummy time fun for the baby and you.
- Start early – According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, healthy full-term babies can begin short durations of tummy time as soon as they get home from the hospital. Think of beginning early as getting a head start to learning an important skill.
- Find the right time – A well-rested, alert and active baby will be more willing try something new. Try tummy time after a nap, a diaper change or a bath so it becomes a routine. Tummy time should be avoided soon after feeding to prevent pressure on the stomach and a possible spit-up.
- Keep it short and go slow – Short durations of 3-5 minutes of tummy time several times a day work best. Increase the duration by 2-5 minutes every few days, so that by 3 months, your infant spends almost an hour on their tummy during the day.
- Setup the area – A clean, flat, firm surface with a soft blanket spread on it works well for tummy time play. Scatter toys around for your baby to have interesting things to look at. For new born tummy time, you could even lay your infant on your stomach, chest or across your lap to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.
- Engage the senses – Use tummy time to provide sensory stimulation to your baby. A brightly coloured blanket underneath and toys all around will encourage your infant to look around. Use a rattle or a mirror that your child can follow and turn to. Stretching to grasp and hold objects also teaches fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Support and encourage – Initially, you can place a rolled up towel or a firm pillow under the baby’s chest for support till they get comfortable in that position. Make sure to hold them on the sides if the baby is lying on your chest. Eye contact, cooing and talking to your child during tummy time provides encouragement and comfort.
- Vary positions and activities – Holding your baby over your shoulder after feeding is their first experience of being held in a non-prone position. Lie tummy-to-tummy with your infant and encourage them to lift their head to look at you. You can carry the baby sideways or on their belly in your arms while moving around. An activity mat, a mobile above the head or a favourite toy just within reach will encourage them to try and reach out at things.
- Involve siblings – It’s a great idea to involve older siblings in tummy time play. Have them lie close to the baby at eye level and flip through a board book, play or even make sounds that the baby can mimic.
Feel free to modify activities to suit your little one. With patience and time, your baby will soon begin to enjoy being on their belly and look forward to it.
For more interesting skill development ideas, activities, and live interactive parent and child sessions, download the KinderPass app now.
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