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Tummy time is an important activity for all infants. It provides many benefits that help infants to develop both physically and mentally so that they can meet developmental milestones. For this reason it is especially important that infants who have special needs be engaged in a tummy time routine.
There are no hard-set rules that describe when and how long an infant should be on their tummy for play. Many pediatricians and childcare experts say tummy time can begin right after birth. Though, if not started right away then definitely by one month of age.
Some pediatricians recommend tummy time for 5-10 minutes several times throughout the day. Others suggest having baby play on their stomach at least once per day. There are no set guidelines for the amount of tummy time a child needs. Tummy time can be as structured or as laid-back as you see fit and for as long as baby is content in this position. When baby starts to cry, it is time to pick them up.
At first, many infants will fuss and resist being on their stomachs. This is an unfamiliar position for them and it is hard work for babies to be able to hold their heads up. Take it slow. Just spending a few seconds on their tummy is beneficial at first. Build from there. The more time an infant spends on their stomach, the easier (and more enjoyable) it will become.
Here are some ways tips for making tummy time a fun and successful activity for your baby
A great way to distract your little one from the hard work of being on their tummy is to get down on the floor with them. Show baby you are there with them, play peekaboo or even simply talking to your baby are all great distractions. You can also place baby (tummy down) onto your tummy. This can be done on the floor or on the sofa and may help baby to enjoy being on their stomach a little more.
Add Extra Support
Propping your baby on a rolled up towel or a nursing pillow may be beneficial for your baby. It gives them a little bit different of a perspective and may be more comfortable. You can place the towel or pillow under baby’s chest and armpit and bring their arms in front of it.
When using pillows or a towel, be sure to keep a close eye on your baby to avoid any risk of suffocation.
Take advantage of toys and books
Placing a toy in front or to the side of baby while on their stomach can keep them entertained. As baby gets older, you can try putting a toy just within reach and watch baby work on reaching and grasping in the prone position.
Some fun toys that are appropriate for tummy time include high-contrast books or a safety mirror, but anything will do. There are also activity gyms with special mats for tummy time that include different textures and patterns sewn onto them.
Some babies even enjoy doing tummy time on an exercise ball. While holding onto your baby securely, you can gently rock them back, forth and side-to-side while lying on the ball on their stomach.
While none of these things are absolutely necessary in order to do tummy time, they may be helpful in engaging baby for a longer period of time while they play on their stomach.
Watch your baby’s cues
Most importantly, watch for cues from your infant. If your baby seems distressed maybe they are tired or hungry. At that point, you can stop and try again later. Maybe the floor is too hard or the blanket they are lying on is too bunched up underneath them. All of these factors can help determine how happy your baby is on their tummy at a given moment.
Listening to what baby is saying will help to make tummy time an enjoyable growing experience for both you and your baby.