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Can Tummy Time for babies ever be enjoyable?

In this post, we'll explore the topic of tummy time for new babies. I hope to provide easy strategies so you both have positive and beneficial tummy times. These tips and techniques help you and your little baby adjust to tummy time and this supports their physical and sensory development.

Tummy time is an essential developmental milestone for all babies, including those born prematurely. To make this activity more enjoyable, I recommend the following evidence-based approaches:

  1. Keep baby close: When starting tummy time with new babies, it's important to keep them in close proximity or on your body. Physical closeness creates feelings of security and attachment, which allows your baby to relax. By maintaining this connection, tummy time can be a supportive and reassuring time of growth, rather than a stressful burden.

  2. Select optimal windows: Observe your baby's behavior and cues to help you find good times for tummy time practice. When they are most alert and content? By selecting favorable moments, you create an environment conducive to calm and beneficial tummy time sessions.

  3. Piggyback with the Contact Nap: This popular napping position involves placing your baby on their tummy so they are lying on your chest. They can see you, smell you, feel your warmth, breath and heartbeat. This physical closeness and gentle support keeps your baby calm while promoting the head-up and back strengthening needed for rolling and crawling.

  4. Gradual progression: When initiating tummy time, it's important to start with short durations and gradually increase the length of each session. Starting in small increments of 30 or 45 seconds initially, contributes to your baby's muscle development and motor skills. By gradually extending the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable, you create a foundation for continuous progress and improvement. By age two or three months, your baby will be happy to lie on their stomach, reaching, stretching and learning to roll over.

  5. Get down on the floor with your baby: Make funny faces, blow raspberries, sing and talk with them. Involving siblings in the process promotes friendship and bonding. Encourage older kids to interact by making funny faces, offering toys, talking and singing with the baby, while you supervise.

  6. Establish a consistent practice: Add tummy time into each part of baby's daily routine. For example, integrate a tummy time session into each diaper change, waking from naps, play time, and breastfeeding. Spending a minute or two on their tummy every 1/2 hour throughout the day helps your baby become comfortable with the activity. It builds their muscles and flexibility in baby steps, over time.

  7. Incorporate toys: Make tummy time more engaging by incorporating age-appropriate toys like rattles, bells, mirrors, textures and picture books that grab your baby's attention and engage all their senses.

  8. Individualized adaptations: Every baby is unique, and certain circumstances may require adaptations for comfortable tummy time. For babies with reflux, practicing tummy time in an inclined position can alleviate discomfort. Placing them on a rolled-up receiving blanket or a Boppy pillow under their arms creates a gentle incline that reduces potential reflux symptoms.

  9. For a baby with torticollis or a large head: These babies may need a gradual introduction to tummy time to accommodate their unique physical characteristics. Try placing them on their side or propping them up with a small rolled-up towel to help them gradually build up neck flexibility and back muscle strength. As they develop, you can progressively transition them to traditional tummy time positions.

  10. Delicate approaches for special cases: Babies with G tubes or sensitive abdominal areas require special consideration during tummy time. Utilizing a cross-lap soothe position or a Boppy pillow under their arms can help create a gap around the sensitive area, ensuring their comfort and safety during the exercise. This approach enables babies with specific needs to experience the benefits of tummy time while minimizing potential discomfort.

Initiating tummy time from is crucial to baby's reflexive development. Humans are a "Carrying Species." We are meant to be on our tummy or in an upright position, not on our backs. With "Back to Sleep" in cribs and bassinets, car seats, bouncy seats and swings, a baby will spend nearly all their day on their back.

Incorporating tummy time early on allows babies to enjoy the position. It initiates the strengthening of their back and neck muscles and promotes the development of motor skills like rolling and crawling.

As you embark on the journey of tummy time with your new baby, remember that each effort contributes to their overall growth and development. By following evidence-based practices and incorporating these strategies, you create an environment that supports our baby's strength and body development. Celebrate each milestone, regardless of its size, as it signifies progress in their journey.

If you have any concerns or specific needs, I encourage you to consult your healthcare provider for additional guidance and/or referrals for physical or occupational therapy for your infant.

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