Tummy Time, you know that somewhat dreaded activity that some little ones really hate? The one pediatricians always ask you about? Well it’s pretty essential to development and can start as soon as the baby is born! I want to discuss today the main reasons that tummy time is pushed in infants, and it’s not just for crawling. Tummy time really helps develop an infant’s core, their fine motor skills (strength and coordination in their hands), and their sensory system.
When a child is on their tummy they build strength in their core, which helps them roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk-when the time comes (though they probably won’t get a six-pack!). Tummy time helps a child improve neck and head control, which has been shown to lead to better spacial awareness.During tummy time they are able to explore their surroundings from a different perspective allowing them to look up and down and from side to side. Think how fundamental these skills are for what will come later! Can you imagine if your little one couldn’t turn to look at something you were pointing at, an airplane in the sky, or a garbage truck outside?
Tummy time helps build strength in their hands and arms, which will later help them to hold their own bottle, reach and hold toys, and even turn pages in a book. At birth babies aren’t using much of their arms during tummy time but, as they age, they will start to push up on elbows and then hands. This progression helps build the strength they need for those fine motor activities later in life.
The last benefit I want to discuss with you is regarding their sensory system. We all know the basic five senses, right? Well did you know that balance and body awareness are also part of our sensory system? When a child is on their tummy, they are learning skills like how to balance, or how much force it takes for them to roll over and push up. Tummy time really helps them gain a better understanding of themselves and how their body works.
Sometimes kiddos just don’t like tummy time. It just isn’t always comfortable, but sometimes that’s what is so great about it! The discomfort can encourage them to move on to the next step to get away from tummy time (i.e. rolling over, crawling…). Even if your kiddo hates it, it is so important to try to get a minimum of 20 minutes of tummy time a day.
Here are some ways to implement tummy time in your daily routine:
On your Chest:
This one is very common especially for newborns. Putting them on their tummy facing you, leaning on their chest doesn’t feel like work at all. Baby is excited to see your face so close, and this one is great to get some skin to skin time in.
Eye Level Play:
Get down on your baby’s level, the best motivation is your encouraging smile. They will love that you are down with them and wanting to play. As they get older, add fun toys for them to reach or roll over for.
Incorporate into your Routine:
If your little one doesn’t love tummy time try and sneak in a minute or two after a diaper change or before bath time, little ones love routine and if you make it fun they will look forward to it each day.
Tummy time on your lap:
Place your little one on your lap, to burp or soothe them. They are still getting tummy time and you are getting something done. Baby will be happy to be near you.
Development is laid out in steps, so you typically have to be on one step before you get to another. That’s why the first three years of a child’s life is so important when it comes to development; we are giving them all the fundamental skills that will help them reach harder skills as they age. Tummy time is one of these fundamental skills, so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should play on their tummy daily to help reach their developmental milestones. Every bit helps, so even carrying your little one on their tummy is great (like superman)!
How does your little one do with tummy time?
Do they love it or hate it?
*The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any diet or treatment decisions.