Always remember: back to sleep, tummy to play!
Your little bundle of joy may fight you a bit at first when you put him on his tummy because his back and neck muscles are still gaining strength. But, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s important that babies spend supervised time on their stomachs when they are awake in order to develop those muscles. The AAP recommends that beginning on the first day home from the hospital, parents should play with the baby two to three times each day while he’s on his back.
So, how do you go about this? Well, experts say to start with just a few minutes at a time to get both of you used to the idea. Here are some other tips and tricks to help you both enjoy this scheduled playtime even more.
- Make sure you’re always there. Don’t just put baby down and watch her from a distance. Take this opportunity to get down on the floor with her and make eye contact. Sing, make funny faces, and noises. Not only will this create some quality time for the two of you, but these actions by you actually help encourage her. Just like you might need a workout buddy, your little girl is working hard and she needs you there to help keep her motivated.
- Don’t push. Tummy time is essential, but it takes time and patience. In the beginning, if your baby can only handle 15 seconds of tummy time before crying, then that’s his max for that session and it’s time for a break. You want to land within that perfect balance of supporting him and encouraging him to continue past his comfort zone (which is likely no tummy time at all). So, when the tears start falling you can scoop him up and try again later.
- All the toys. No one would enjoy just lying on their tummy with nothing to do. Boring! So, give her some fun stuff to do and work towards while she’s there. Set out some of her favorite toys and if they squeak, crinkle or rattle, even better! Once she gets comfortable playing with them, place one just out of reach and she’ll start trying to find a way to get closer.
- Try a boost. If you have a stubborn little who simply is not showing any tolerance of this tummy time stuff, give him a boost. Try placing a small rolled-up towel under his chest to give him a bit of extra support.
- Prep. Like with any workout, you need to have on the right clothes, shoes and have plenty of water nearby. Your baby’s workout isn’t any different, while except there’s no need for yoga pants. Make sure that before tummy time baby is well-fed, well-burped, and well-rested. A cranky, hungry baby will not be pleased to be part of your exercise regiment for the day. Also, if she is a spitter-upper, give her a grace period after feeding to avoid a mess later.