Tummy time is one of the most essential things that you should include in your baby’s daily routine. By doing regular tummy time – at least a few minutes per day – you will help unlock numerous benefits that will impact your baby’s health and well-being.
If your baby doesn’t particularly love tummy time, don’t worry. That is completely normal! They are not in the most comfortable position, and it forces them to use their muscles to support their weight.
However, just like a proper workout, tummy time may not feel comfortable at first but it does a lot of good for your baby’s body.
The Benefits of Tummy Time
Doing tummy time results in a lot of advantages for your baby. First, it strengthens your baby’s muscles in the neck, shoulders, arms, and upper torso. Next, it boosts physical development and gets your baby ready to reach their milestones like sitting and crawling.
Tummy time also prevents the occurrence of flat head syndrome, which happens when a baby lies on their back all the time. Aside from this, laying your baby on their stomach gives them a chance to see the world from a different perspective, piquing their imagination and thinking.
But how do you encourage your baby to do their daily tummy time?
7 Ways to Make Tummy Time Fun and Engaging
To motivate your baby to do a few minutes of tummy time per day, it helps to come up with fun and entertaining tummy time activities. These activities will engage your baby and will even help with their development!
Here are 7 ways to make tummy time more fun for baby.
1. Get down on your stomach, too.
It can get rather lonely to do something you are not accustomed to do by yourself. Akin to looking for a gym partner when you’re not used to going to the gym, it is also very important for your baby to have a companion when they do tummy time. That means you!
When you lay your baby on their stomach, it’s a great idea to also lie down on your belly beside them or in front of them. Make eye contact and talk to your baby. Tummy time is not as easy as it sounds – especially for newborn babies – so you need to be there to encourage your baby.
2. Use tummy time for some skin-to-skin contact.
If both skin-to-skin contact and tummy time have dramatic impacts on the development of your baby, then why don’t you do both at the same time? When your baby is fresh from a bath, rather than dressing them up again, let them wear nothing but their diaper and lay them on your chest, belly-down.
While tummy time strengthens the muscles, skin-to-skin contact makes the both of you calmer and more relaxed. The latter also helps improve your baby’s heart rate, breathing, and digestion. There’s nothing you cannot conquer with skin-to-skin tummy time!
3. Walk your baby while they’re doing tummy time.
Who says your baby can only do tummy time on the floor or on a soft play mat? With your baby in the belly-down position, carry them facing away from you and walk around your house. Let your baby see the inside of your home from a whole new different perspective!
If the weather permits, go outside the house and continue doing the tummy time walk. Describe what you see and let your baby go near interesting things such as flowers and leaves. With this activity, you are helping with your baby’s physical and mental development.
4. Add textures to tummy time.
Your baby may not be born with the keenest vision, but they already have a sharp sense of touch. You should stimulate their tactile sense so that your baby can use it to gain a better understanding of the world. And you can do it during tummy time to hit two birds with one stone.
When your baby is doing tummy time, surround them with things that come with different, interesting textures. For example, you can lay down next to them some lightweight muslin blankets or a soft and lush cotton hooded towel. Let your baby explore these different textures.
5. Lay your baby down in front of something interesting.
Aside from textures, it is also important to help with your baby’s developing vision by putting near them things that will capture their attention. For newborn babies, it is best to get something that comes in a highly contrasting color scheme, like black and white.
If space allows, it is practical to have an area in your house prepared just for tummy time. In front of the play mat can be a wall with interesting drawings and patterns in brilliant, contrasting colors. Eventually, your baby will see more clearly and be able to track more objects other than the drawings on the wall.
6. Take their favorite toy to their tummy time spot.
Many babies cannot sleep without their favorite toy or a security blanket. So it makes a lot of sense why newborn babies might need a toy to make it through tummy time. Choose toys that are fine for little babies to play with, such as soft plush toys and soft knitted rattles.
Stay away from plastic toys and toys that have little plastic pieces, which are a choking hazard,. Sooner or later, your baby will begin to associate tummy time with playtime. At this point, this is a good thing because your children will learn to look forward to tummy time.
7. Let your baby hear your voice.
You may already know this, but in case you have forgotten, your voice is one of your baby’s major sources of comfort. Even if you cannot lie down on the floor with your baby or do skin-to-skin contact with them, letting them hear your voice calms them down.
You can sing to your baby different nursery rhymes, but go for lively ones instead of rhymes that might make them fall asleep (sleeping on their tummy is a big no-no!). If you are not comfortable with singing, then crack open a storybook and read to your baby.
As a reminder, while you can have your baby do their tummy time several times a day, refrain from doing it right after feeding as it may cause spit-ups. More importantly, never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time!
Tummy time is not the easiest thing in the world, especially for tiny newborns. But with these 7 tips, it is definitely possible to make tummy time more fun and a lot more engaging.