Tummy time means letting your baby lie on their front for a little bit every day. The amount of time depends on their age and development, but you can start as young as one week old.
Tummy time allows them to strengthen their neck, shoulder and back muscles, it boosts their motor skills and changes up the environment for them. Eventually, as they get older they will be able to reach for things and look up a little bit more, giving them a sense of accomplishment. You will not enjoy watching your little one struggle at the beginning, and they wont like it either, but it is crucial to their development because it prepares them for rolling over and crawling.
How to start?
You can start off with giving them around two to three minute sessions every day. For newborns a good way to do this is to lie on your back and have your baby lie on your chest, getting that face to face contact may encourage them to lift their heads. Just be careful not to nod off yourself! As they get older you can increase the amount of tummy time to 20 minutes a day.
Between 3 to 4 months your baby should be able to lift their head off the floor, maybe even leaning on their elbows and forearms. In another month they should be pushing up with their hands. Don’t worry if they fall to one side or roll over, this is completely normal, but it’s especially important that they’re not left alone during this time.
From 5 to 6 months old they will learn to move around on their tummy, pivoting, stretching and reaching to the sides and in front of them. Your baby will learn how to move their own body, improving their coordination and giving them the confidence to try new things as they get older.
At around 9 months old they may start to crawl, but don’t worry if your baby doesn’t, some babies skip the crawling stage and go straight to walking!
Setting the scene
It’s best to make tummy time part of their daily routine, part of their playtime. The floor is always the safest place for them to play, so find a soft mat or blanket and a few age-appropriate toys. An unbreakable mirror is a great gadget for them! They will love looking at their reflection, and you can vary the position so it encourages them to move around. Put some toys just out of reach so they have to stretch and shuffle. They might need a lot of encouragement at the start so get down with them and play, enjoy this tummy time together.
Tummy time can be exhausting for them so if they take a nap just carefully move them onto their back and let them rest. (Never let them sleep on their tummy)