It’s never too early to start giving your baby tummy time! Occupational Therapist Cindy Chuan confirms that allowing your baby to have tummy time strengthens their head and neck muscles and helps build their upper body strength for future development like rolling, sitting and crawling.
How long should tummy time be?
When offering your baby tummy time, you can start off with just 1-2 minutes, two or three times a day. Gradually extend the time as your baby gets more used to being on their tummy. Cindy says to remember that in the early months, tummy time is only for awake time. The mantra, ‘back to sleep, tummy to play’ is a good rule to follow.
Here are 7 ways you can allow your baby to have tummy time:
1. Chest to chest with you
Lay back on some pillows on your couch or bed so the upper part of your body is at a 45-degree angle and place your baby on your chest. This is comfy for baby, and great for bonding with your baby as you’re face to face.
2. Lying across your lap
Lay your baby tummy-down on your lap for just a few minutes. This will help them to get get comfortable with this position. Remember to do this when they’re most alert, and not right after feeding as this may cause them to bring up their milk.
3. Lying across your forearm
Hold your baby in a football hold with their tummy across your forearm, using your other arm to support them.
4. Lying beside your baby
If they are lying on their own, get down with them on the floor or ask a sibling to lie down with baby! You can use this opportunity to interact with your baby.
5. Lying over your leg
You can also sit on the floor with a leg outstretched. Place your baby with their chest over your leg, so their legs are on one side of your leg and their arms and head over the other. You can rub baby’s back soothingly while they’re in this position too!
6. Securely held on a gym ball
Make sure you have a good hold on your baby and gently place them tummy down on top of a gym ball like the Circuit 75cm Gym Ball. Placing your baby on a steeper incline – towards the side of the ball – will be most comfortable for babies still getting used to tummy time, while placing baby on the flatter, top part of the ball is more challenging for babies who are already comfortable being on their tummies. Hold your baby firmly and slowly move the ball back and forth.
7. Lying on an inclined surface
You can give your baby tummy on a slightly inclined surface like a cot mattress raised slightly on one end. Try putting a mattress on the floor with a book or two under one end and let your baby lay on their tummy at the raised end.
Remember to always stay with your baby during tummy time. Not all babies like tummy time, so be sure to take breaks when they need and just try again later! This is a great time for your baby to strengthen their muscles through play and a wonderful bonding time for you both.
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