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Tummy time is just how it sounds, giving your baby the opportunity to play and lay on their stomach when they might not be able to get themselves in that position independently. Tummy time is important for many reasons:
- It helps to strengthen your baby's neck, arms, and trunk muscles in preparation for independent floor mobility (i.e. army crawling, rolling, and creeping).
- Build a baby's head control which is crucial for future fine motor and gross motor milestones.
- Tummy time helps to develop a baby's ultimate head shape.
When should I start tummy time with my baby?
Around 1-3 months is a perfect time to start introducing tummy time to your baby.
Here are a few ways to slowly introduce tummy time:
- Tummy time doesn’t always mean laying your baby on the floor. You can introduce tummy time when your baby is laying right on your chest while they are on their stomach.
- While sitting in a chair with your baby, you can have them lay on their stomach over your legs and you can decide what angle to put your legs in order to either increase or decrease the demand for your child.
- A football hold is another excellent way to introduce tummy time to your baby before putting them directly on the floor. When determining that it is time to transition to the floor, start slowly using a boppy, or a rolled-up blanket under their arms until the baby is ready and has built the endurance to be laying directly on the floor.
How to make tummy time engaging and fun for your child:
- When your baby is laying on your chest, chat with them! Make eye contact and reassure them that they are safe and loved.
- Have visually stimulating toys and pictures within 8-12 inches in front of them to look at and explore. It is important to choose higher contrast images preferably white and black coloring, as your baby won’t start seeing additional colors until 5 months of age.
- Place them in front of dangling toys. This may encourage your baby to prop themselves up on their elbows to get a better view or even start reaching forward to play with toys.
Tummy time is a great way to help your baby build muscles while also connecting with them. With tummy time as the starting point, your baby will be army crawling and rolling all over the home in no time!