You’ve heard about tummy time with your newborn, but you also have lots of questions. When can you start? How long should you do it every day? What if your baby hates it?
Today I’m sharing a few tummy time basics. I’ll also give you four easy ways to help your newborn enjoy tummy time, even if she currently hates spending time on her belly!
Leave a comment below with ways you and your baby played during tummy time!
Why is tummy time important?
When your newborn arrives, she’s a tiny ball of mush with very little control over her body. And she has no neck control at all. You need to support her neck at all times because she can’t hold it up by herself.
By spending time on her tummy every day, your baby begins to develop her neck, shoulder, and back muscles. This helps her to hold up her neck and builds the foundation for her to roll over, sit, crawl, and walk.
Tummy time also helps to prevent soft spots on your baby’s head. His skull bones move around very easily and spending too much time on his back can cause a big flat spot. By switching things up and enjoying tummy time every day, you help your baby to adjust positions and avoid this from happening.
When should you start tummy time?
As soon as possible!
Don’t worry about this while you’re at the hospital. But start adding it to your routine once you get home. Right away, aim for 3-5 minutes at a time at least 3 times a day. Gradually encourage your baby to stay on her belly a little longer and a little more often. Ideally, your baby will spend at least 30+ minutes a day on her tummy by the time she’s a couple months old.
Remember that tummy time should always be supervised. When your baby is teeny tiny, she might not be strong enough to readjust or move her neck. Make sure that you are with her and watching her. Use tummy time as a great way for you to bond with each other!
How can you help your baby enjoy tummy time?
Some babies love tummy time from the very beginning. But many babies aren’t a big fan. Although I know that tummy time is important, my parenting style isn’t big on letting my baby cry excessively. When Baby J cries, I want him to know that I will respond to him right away.
So I had to find some clever ways to help Baby J enjoy tummy time instead of just plopping him onto his tummy, setting a timer, and letting him cry until tummy time was over.
I hope you can also use these super simple tips to help your baby enjoy tummy time and slowly add a little more into your routine each day!
Start by doing tummy time on your tummy!
Although Baby J initially wasn’t a big fan of laying on the hard floor all by himself, he was a HUGE fan of cuddling and laying with mom and dad. Actually, he hardly let us put him down until he was a few months old.
And this is true for most babies! They feel soothed and comforted by spending time stomach-to-stomach with you. So use this to your advantage and build in some tummy time!
Lay on your back and center your baby in the middle of your stomach. Talk to her and encourage her to move and look around. Show her different toys or have other friends and family lie next to you to motivate her to use her muscles to see everything!
Use a Boppy Pillow!
When your baby is super small, he might get frustrated that he isn’t strong enough to look up as high as he wants. He can’t lift his body yet and can only see the floor right in front of him. Which means he might want to end tummy time as soon as he starts.
But balancing your baby in a Boppy pillow (or something similar) can be the perfect way to fix this! It elevates your baby just enough that he can look up and see around. Because he can see a little better, he is more likely to enjoy his tummy time and spend more time developing these muscles.
Add a mirror!
Babies love mirrors and they love smiling at the cute little baby looking back at them. This means that a mirror can be the perfect addition to tummy time!
Place a shatterproof mirror about 6-12 inches in front of your baby. Then encourage her to lift up her head and look at the baby in the mirror. Your baby will be excited to look at her new friend and spend a little more time on her belly.
Bond with your baby!
Of course, my favorite tip is to use tummy time as an opportunity for you to bond with your baby. Set him on his tummy and then lay on your stomach a few inches in front of him. Talk, sing, read, and encourage him to look up at you.
You can also make tummy time more interesting by adding in some sensory play. Find something that is smooth, rough, soft, etc. and gently rub it on your baby’s arms or hands while he plays on his stomach. You can also have a little tray of water and encourage your baby to touch and play with the water.
All of this play time will help you to bond with your baby and help your baby to realize how much fun tummy time can be!
Did your baby love tummy time or hate it?
Let us know in the comments below!