Tummy Time plays a vital role in your child's development and reaching crucial milestones as they grow. If you have done research on how much tummy time your child needs, you've probably gotten mixed answers on what to do and how long you should do it. Honestly, there is no one right answer. Every kiddo is different, every family is different, so no two tummy time sessions will be the same. We've got some great info from licensed Occupational and Physical Therapists to help give you a (hopefully) easier approach to tummy time.
Do we really have to make time for tummy time?
Yes! Here are a few benefits of tummy time for your child:
- Lays the foundation for upcoming milestones: pivot -> roll -> crawl, joint attention and reciprocal play, and visual tracking.
- Strengthens muscles in the arms, hips, back extensors, chest, trunk, and neck.
- Improves coordination, body awareness, dynamic reaching, and intrinsic hand strength; which lays the foundation for all fine motor skills.
- It prepares them for independent exploration of their environment! This is how children (and even adults) learn new skills.
My kid doesn't like tummy time, so we don't do it.
Sound familiar? We know tummy time can be stressful, especially if your child doesn't enjoy it or cries the whole time. No one wants to go through that experience. This is something that is scary, it's a new experience; they CAN do it with help and encouragement and by making it part of their daily routine. Let's be honest, who enjoys changing diapers? But it's part of their daily routine that has to be done. Think of tummy time the same way! We have 5 great tips to help make tummy time more fun for baby and for mom and dad!
Make it part of your daily routine.
- After every diaper change, roll them to their stomach for as long as they tolerate it. Once they start fussing, move on. Before you know it, you've done 30 minutes of tummy time throughout the day. Adding this to the diaper change routine helps acclimate them to being on their tummy, gives mom and dad less stress about squeezing in one more thing, and keeps tummy time from becoming a forceful or traumatic experience!
Have favorite or special toys they only get during tummy time.
- When tummy time is over, tummy time toys go away. This makes tummy time special and keeps those toys new and fresh!
Change the environment.
- Tummy time doesn't have to be on the floor! Lay them across your lap, on your chest while you lay back, hold them like an airplane, use a boppy or exercise ball. The environment and surface can change, but the skills they develop will be the same! Using different surfaces will also help acclimatize them to balancing on soft or hard surfaces as well!
Get on their level.
- Literally. You can lay on the floor with them, lay them across your chest, or on the diaper table after changing. Being at eye level with them gives you a more personal connection and lets them see you in their environment, experiencing their world with them, which is very comforting.
Vary the textures present.
- If you're changing the surfaces that they lay on, they will experience a few different textures, but present them with new and exciting textures while they're playing, too! You can use rugs, sensory bags, texture books, grass, or a sensory hula hoop.
Tummy time doesn't have to be stressful for anyone, but we know that it can be. We hope that these tips help make this a tear-free activity that you can all enjoy together while developing crucial skills. If you have tummy time tips or favorite activities that work for you, share them in the comments!