- Laugh & learn
- Smart Stages
- Little People
For you, tummy time is a daily gotta-do. (Doc said so!) You lovingly place your baby, belly-side down on her favourite plush mat, spread out some favourite toys, set your timer, and pat yourself on the back for having your act together. For your baby, however, tummy time is a BIG EVENT. There’s So Much Happening! Curious what’s running through your little one’s mind as she wiggles and giggles? Here’s the scoop.
To the untrained eye, tummy time looks, well, kind of like laying on the floor. (Something every exhausted parent is itching to do.) But it’s really a total body workout. While your baby is on her belly, not only is she engaging in a head-to-toe stretch, she’s fighting hard against gravity to keep her head up—crucial for building neck and upper-body strength. This laying-on-the-floor business is, basically, preconditioning for milestones like rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking. The more time your little workout buddy spends on her belly, the stronger she’ll be and the more she’ll like it.
She’s squirming and straining, so throw her a solid and be her spotter. Simply roll a towel into a pool noodle-esque shape (or use a tummy time toy) and slide it below her armpits. This’ll comfortably support her chest while encouraging her to use her upper body to push up. Atta girl.
Yes, tummy time does give your baby a new perspective, which is definitely exciting. (Dust bunnies! Lost remote controls! Renegade soothers!) But if given the choice between gazing at your face or your shoes, your face will always win. So get down on the ground and make funny faces, sing silly songs, and play with her toys to make tummy time feel like a treat. Or try reclining on your back with baby perched on your stomach, or lift and bend your legs so your kiddo can lay belly-first on them.
You know how you’re always secretly hoping that someone (anyone!) will offer you a backrub if you lay down face-first on the floor? Babies are no different. Strip your bug down to her diaper for tummy time, then with a blob of coconut oil, safflower, or your favourite infant-friendly lotion, give her a little infant massage while she’s sprawled out on her belly. Feels divine and boosts your bonding. She could get used to this!
Tummy time shouldn’t last a super long time. It can start with laying your infant belly-down on your chest or your lap for just a few minutes 2 to 3 times a day. Abracadabra, your baby will gradually last longer, eventually landing on a total of 20 to 30 minutes over the course of the day. She’ll let you know when she’s had enough - no worries there.
You know what your little one loves to look at? No, not floors. Faces! And if it’s not yours, it’s her own. (Can you blame her?) Enter: The amazingness of the baby-safe mirror, inspiring baby to lift her head and use her torso and arm muscles to lovingly admire her reflection. Double bonus: Mirror-gazing also boosts baby’s ability to focus, fosters self-identity, and even enhances cognitive development.
Love the mirror. Love it! But try to offer a bit of variety with tummy-time toys. It’s harder to get bored with an assortment, right? And don’t forget to place her playthings not-too-close and not-too-far so your baby can reach out and grab her favourites. Pro tip: Pick toys that offer multiple textures, bright and bold colours, and fun sounds. (Crinkles! Rattles! Music!) She’ll be engaging her senses all while engaging her core.
Consider yourself warned: Never attempt tummy time right after a feeding. While you might think full belly, happy baby, you’d be wrong. For baby, being on her tum after eating puts pressure on her abdomen, which makes her uncomfortable. (Cue the spit up.) Instead, aim for when your little one is most alert, like post-diaper change or after she wakes up from a nap.
Your babe’s learning how to make her body do new and exciting feats, thanks to those stints on her belly. And that’s a total self-esteem booster. With each tummy-time session, her strength, sense of accomplishment, and confidence to do even more cool stuff grows. Yep, she’s kind of a big deal. But you already knew that!
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