Help your baby learn to love it...
At Baby College we love to welcome new parents into our classes. Our classes are filled with lots of different activities and games that parents can play with their babies at home, however, we always stress the importance of tummy time for their baby’s all round neurological and physical development. In fact, if there’s only one aspect of Baby College that parents take away with them it would, for Infants, be tummy time.
Tummy time is so important as it will help your baby develop muscle strength, vision, learning about the world around them (360º), hand-eye coordination, integration of the left/right brain and body and it will play a vital role in the replacement of their infant reflexes and development of their vestibular (balance system). It may also help prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome and twisted neck (positional torticollis).
Back to Sleep was the campaign launched by Anne Diamond in the 1980s. It has been incredibly successful in reducing cot death, but it had the unexpected knock-on effect of also reducing the time that babies play on their tummies. In fact, the campaign was actually called ‘Back to Sleep, Front to Play’, but the second half of the slogan was lost. We completely endorse the Back to Sleep Campaign, but remind parents of the importance of the ‘Front to Play’ in our classes as we encourage parents/carers to play with babies on their tummies and suggest that this is consolidated at home.
Babies are active from birth and can start having a small amount of tummy time from as early as one month old. Start by giving your baby just a couple of minutes on their front at a time, which should be repeated two or three times a day, gradually building up to a total of about an hour a day by around three months old. Even at three months this hour shouldn’t be all at once, but made up of short bursts across the day. Your baby will naturally try to lift their head to see what’s going on but won’t be able to hold it up for long periods of time until they are around three or four months old.
Tummy Time Activities
Under 3 months:
• Lie your baby face down on your lap (you could do this when winding your baby).
• Lie your baby on your chest or stomach with their face near yours, whilst you are lying down or relaxing in a chair. • Lay your baby down on the floor and then you lie down in front of them and use a rattle to distract them and to encourage visual development. • When standing hold your baby on their tummy, lying flat on your hand/arm, holding them securely round one arm and one leg (Tiger in a Tree pose).
Over 3 Months: • Practise tummy time in small time increments. • Continue to use rattles or pull-a-long toys to encourage head turning and visual tracking. • Encourage your baby to practise rolling and moving while on their tummy by placing a toy just out of their reach, as this will encourage them to reach and rotate on their tummy to get the toy. • Play peek a boo under a scarf or a blanket. • Use mirrors as babies love to look at themselves.
Always make tummy time a fun activity with smiles, songs, praise and lots of interaction. Try as much as possible to get down on the ground with your baby – it reinforces the idea that it is a fun and social activity and helps keep them distracted 😊