One of the first exercises you can provide a newborn is tummy time. One may better understand it as the time spent on the stomach when the baby is awake and active. It is an important exercise that helps develop the baby’s motor, visual, and sensory skills.
You can start the tummy time when your baby is a newborn. A newborn may not be able to hold their head high. But as they grow, they slowly lift their head, thus providing good exercise to the neck and shoulder. You can continue tummy time throughout the first year of the baby.
Why Is Tummy Time Important?
Tummy time offers a lot of benefits to the newborn.
- It helps develop the muscles of the neck, shoulder, and back. The muscle development provides a foundation for the baby to meet other motor milestones like rolling and sitting.
- It helps the baby touch and feel different textures like carpet and blanket. This touching develops the sensory skill of the baby.
- As the body weight shifts during a tummy time, it helps to create a sense of body awareness.
- Since the baby’s head does not touch any surface while lying on the tummy, it helps prevent conditions like flat head syndrome.
How Long Should You Keep Them In This Position?
Initially, you can try the tummy time for a few minutes for a newborn. A newborn’s neck and shoulder muscles are not developed. Thus, tummy time can put a strain on these parts. Once the baby is around three months and gains neck control, you can extend the time to one hour daily. But make sure to provide enough breaks in between to relax the baby.
You can continue providing tummy time until the baby is around 7-8 months. By that time, the baby would have reached the next developmental milestone of crawling. Thus, they get the benefit of tummy time.
How To Do Tummy Time?
It would be best if you practised tummy time in a clear area. First, spread a neat blanket on a clear surface. Now make the baby lie on the blanket on his tummy. It is best to practice tummy time after a nap or diaper change so that the baby does not get irritated. You may also use a tummy time pillow to keep the baby in an elevated position. You can place toys or a few colored objects in front of the baby to amuse them.
What Are The Different Ways You Can Do Tummy Time?
Apart from a flat surface like the floor, you can also try out tummy time in other positions.
When you start tummy time, you can place the baby on the chest instead of a surface. Make sure that you sit at a 45-degree angle. When the baby lifts its head, it can see your face. You can then keep the baby occupied through baby talks.
You are cradling the baby with their tummy across your arms in this position. The baby looks like a mini aeroplane in this position. You can then walk around with the baby. You can talk to the baby about all things you see as you move around.
Bouncing Ball Position
Here you can use a yoga ball as a base. Spread a blanket on the ball and gently place the baby on top. Make sure that you support the baby. Now gently roll the ball from side to side. This rolling can keep the baby excited.
How To Engage A Baby During Tummy Time?
Here are some exciting ways to keep the baby engaged and amused during tummy time.
Place Black And White Objects
The baby can only see the light and dark objects during the initial days. Thus, you can place a black and white toy or board in front of the baby during tummy time. These objects boost the baby’s visualisation and excite them.
Have Fabric Fun
You can try out fabric fun once the baby is around six months. Place the baby on the tummy and gently sweep a fabric on the baby’s face. You can use a silky scarf or any other sheer fabric for the same purpose. Sweeping the fabric will keep the baby engaged for some time.
Have Fun With The Wrist Rattle
Place a wrist rattle on the baby’s arm while lying on their tummy. As the baby moves the arm, the rattle produces some sound. This sound can keep the baby occupied.
Track A Toy
You can place a colourful toy in front of the baby and slowly move it. The baby will slowly track the toy with their eyes. As the baby grows, they even try to reach out to the toy.
Place A Colourful Mat
Using a colourful mat instead of a plain blanket is another way to keep the baby amused. Playmats come with colourful pictures that can keep the baby engaged. A play gym is the best option as it has different objects to keep the baby entertained.
Use A Water Mat
The water mat comes filled with water with fish and other colourful objects floating on it. The baby will try to catch the fish while on the tummy, keeping them engaged. Water mats are primarily suitable for babies 6-8 months of age.
Place A Mirror On The Floor
Babies love looking at their faces. To provide them with this joy, you can place a small mirror in front of the baby while on the tummy. The baby can look at their face and keep themselves engaged.
This game is for babies around 7-8 months old. You can place a small tray with rubber ducks on it. The baby will try to catch the duck by splashing water all around. It can keep them engaged for a while.
Tummy time is highly beneficial for the baby’s motor, sensory, and visual development. You can start practising the same a few weeks after birth. Start with one minute and gradually increase the time as the baby grows. You can practice for one hour a day with enough breaks. It helps the baby to adjust and enjoy the tummy time slowly.