How to Make Tummy Time Fun
How to Make Tummy Time Fun for Babies
Tummy Time for BabiesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tummy Time for Babies
Trying to introduce tummy time to a back-is-best generation baby can be frustrating. Many babies today often refuse to enjoy tummy time simply because most of the hours of the day or night they are doing what experts suggest: sleeping on their backs to reduce the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Nevertheless, babies need to learn to like it and parents need to be patient when babies don’t like tummy time.
Tummy time is an essential part of a baby’s growth and development. It helps babies to strengthen neck muscles and prevent the back of their skulls from becoming flattened from lying on their backs (source: Babyzone.com). It also provides practice for skills that are necessary later, such as rolling and crawling.
Learn about when to start tummy time and how you can make it a fun experience for your baby.
When Should I Start Tummy Time?
Tummy time needs to be implemented early in a baby’s life, starting soon after the baby is born. At first, it should only be done in short intervals, like five to ten minutes at a time, and gradually done in longer periods of time. The earlier it is started, the more likely the baby will get used to it and learn to enjoy the new perspective.
If you're unsure about placing your baby on the floor, a blanket, or a tummy time mat, start implementing tummy time by laying the baby on you! By placing the baby on your shoulder, you're giving the baby the opportunity to use his/her neck muscles. Another way to do it is to lay down and place the baby on your chest, which also may encourage the baby to use his/her neck.
Tummy Time: How Long?
How Long Should Baby Be on the Belly?
Babies should be on their bellies for at least 30 minutes a day, but it doesn't have to be all at one time. Any time baby is on the tummy and needs to lift the neck to see counts as tummy time, which means time on your shoulder or on your lap counts!
How to Make Tummy Time Fun for Baby
For many babies of the back-is-best generation though, no matter when you start tummy time or how long it is done, they just don’t like it. That is when you need to think about some strategies to make tummy time more enjoyable for both the baby and yourself.
1. Provide a soft surface. Babies will be more likely to enjoy tummy time if it is easy on their bellies. Would you want to lay belly-down on a hard surface such as a wood floor or tile? Probably not. Place babies on soft surfaces, such as on a rug, blanket, yoga mat or activity mat. Fisher Price has a variety of activity mats to choose from that are great for tummy time. My personal favorite, one that has lasted these past three years through two kids, is the Fisher Price Rainforest 1-2-3 Musical Gym. Another great item to use that you might already have is a Boppy pillow. Simply place the pillow on a soft surface and lay the baby on his/her tummy. It’s nice because it gives baby the much needed tummy time and a different view without having to be flat on the floor.
2. Distract, distract, distract. Tummy time is the perfect time for parents to learn the art of distraction. Find colorful, loud toys to move around in front of the baby. Place a colorful scarf just out of baby’s reach and encourage him/her to reach for it. Many of the activity mats take care of distraction for you. They are already very colorful (sense a pattern here?) and have toys, mirrors, and music with which to entertain the baby during tummy time.
3. Interact with your baby! Tummy time is not just for babies; it’s for parents too! Put that phone/computer/iPad away. Get down on the floor with your baby (remember: soft surface for you too). Move some toys in front of the baby as you describe what you do. Sing songs. Read a book. Talk about your day (baby may not understand, but think about all of the vocabulary words you’re introducing him/her to!). Make silly faces. Tummy time is an awesome time for interacting with your baby, and as a bonus, it serves as a distraction too!
4. Check for gas, diaper issues, etc. Is there something that could be bothering baby when you place her/him on the ground? Gas bubbles could be a culprit when it comes to tummy time. Make sure the baby is properly burped after feedings to reduce the occurrence of gas troubles. Also check for diaper issues. Is it wet or dirty? Change it; baby doesn’t want to play in dirty diapers. Make sure it is not tugging or pulling on any sensitive areas. When you place your baby on his/her belly, the diaper may shift and cause baby some discomfort. Is the baby tired? Some babies just refuse to play or interact when they are tired, so make sure the baby has a chance to rest if she/he does not seem to want to play.
5. Practice with patience. It’s amazing how many times I’ll say this, but for everything you do with a baby, patience is absolutely necessary. Since tummy time is something that needs to be practiced, it can be frustrating when babies cry and cry during tummy time. Did you always enjoy learning something new? Think of all the things you had to learn and then practice over and over again; it’s not always fun, especially if you were used to a different routine. Some babies don’t like to learn new things when they are so used to something else, like lying on their backs. It takes time to get used to the new feelings and views that come along with tummy time. Give them time to get used to it, which means much practice is necessary. If baby refuses to enjoy tummy time, try a different time to practice.
Be Patient with Tummy Time
Tummy time, an essential time for growth and development in a baby’s life, can be frustrating, but parents can help babies enjoy this important time by providing a soft surface, entertainment, and interaction. Remember to be patient; it may take a while for the babies of the back-is-best generation to learn to like tummy time.