Does your baby enjoy tummy time or downright cry as soon as you put them on their tummy? I know every baby is different but mine HATED it with a passion up until last week. Now Camila finally loves it! Yay! She always sleeps on her back and likes it like that which is great for reducing the risk of SIDS. However, since we want her to build her body muscles, gain strength, hold her head up, and develop the ability to crawl eventually, we have to take time with her to put her on her tummy.
Tummy time is essential not only for muscle strengthening but it’s an important key in developing motor skills, coordination, balance, and control in posture.
Keep in mind that every baby is different and will hit their milestones at different times. It’s not a competition for who’s baby achieves what when, even though we do get excited when our babies achieve milestones early, let’s be honest here. Just remember to enjoy tummy time with your little one so they can feel more encouraged to do it like it’s a fun activity and not a fitness class they feel obligated to go to.
Luckily there are various ways of practicing tummy time other than having them on a flat boring surface. I’ve listed the 5 ways I practiced tummy time with Camila below, along with some tips so you can have fun practicing tummy time with your little one.
WARNING: Do NOT leave your baby unattended when doing these exercises.
Ways to Practice Tummy Time:
1. Put them on a flat surface such as a play mat on the floor. Make sure to have their hands under their chin and elbows under their shoulders like a plank position so they can hold themselves up. Put toys in front of them for them to grab or catch their attention and/or be eye level with them so they feel close to you. Talk to them to distract them and give them encouragement. The key here is to make it enjoyable and fun for them!
2. Sit on the couch or edge of the bed and prop their chest / tummy on your lap. Hold their legs so they don’t fall over of course.
3. Believe it or not, having them lay on your chest while you lay down or even upright while you’re sitting down or walking around is a great way to strengthen their neck and back muscles as well as getting them to hold their head up. For Camila’s first month, this was all she would do because she hated all other tummy time options but it helped her a lot. Remember to hold their head if they can’t hold it up themselves yet.
4. Lay on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and lay your baby’s chest / tummy on your shins with their face facing yours. Lift your legs parallel to the ground while you hold their hands or arms and play superman with them. Babies love this as it distracts them from actual tummy time and makes it seem more like a fun ride for them.
5. On a play mat or bed, lay them on their back and start rolling them over to their side by crossing one leg over the other and rolling them to their tummy. Have them on their tummy for about a minute or as long as they can hold it before getting fussy and then roll them back over to their back. Do this a few times switching sides. Be careful with their arm when you roll them onto their back. When you roll them over to their back, put their arm down along their side so they can turn on it as opposed to under their chin. Then clap and show how proud you are of them. Babies love encouragement just like adults.
You might be wondering WHEN you can do these exercises. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Start their mornings with tummy time after you change their diaper and before they eat. They’re excited and typically in a good mood. You can even practice on the changing table!
2. It’s recommended not to do these exercises until at least 45 minutes to an hour after they’ve eaten as it can cause them to spit up so work around their feeding schedule.
3. Practice for at least 3-5 minutes at a time a few times a day and work your way up when you can. Just don’t force it. As soon as they get fussy, get them off their tummy and tell them what a good job they’ve done.
Let me know if these work out for you, if they don’t, or if you have any comments below. Good luck and happy tummy time!