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What is tummy time?
Tummy time is when your baby spends time on their stomach while they are awake and being watched you or their caregiver. It allows them to lift their head and turn over,which helps strengthen their head, neck, shoulders and boosts their motor skills. Moving their head around makes the muscles in the eyes stronger and using their body muscles will allow them to sit in the future. It is also the best time to bond with your baby.
Tummy time also prevents your baby from having a flat spot on their head that usually resolves as they grow up. It also helps lessen the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome where many seemingly healthy babies die because of some unknown reasons.
Why do babies need tummy time?
Here are some reasons while tummy time is not only great for bonding with your baby but is also beneficial to them:
• It allows them to practice more important developmental milestones in their life like crawling, sitting upright and even rolling over.
• It boosts their gross motor skills.
• Familiarizes them with the environment and promotes visual development especially when there are interesting and non-hazardous toys around them.
• Promotes the development of their senses especially when they feel the sensation of the floor, blanket or even the carpet.
• Lessens their chance of having torticollis. Torticollis is the tightening of the muscles in the neck that makes it difficult for them to turn their heads.
• It alleviates gas pain.
When should you start doing tummy time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting tummy time as early as possible; some even suggest to start with it as soon after birth! Healthy babies who were born full term or 37 weeks and above can start their tummy time during their first days at home from the hospital. As long as both your baby and you are rested enough you may supervise them during tummy time.
You can start by having 1-2-minute sessions at least 2-3 times per day, then increase it gradually until your baby reaches 15-30 minutes/session/day. Continue practicing it until your baby can roll in his own.
Make sure that you don’t do tummy time after feeding as this may increase the pressure in your baby’s stomach causing them to spit or vomit their milk. Lastly, make sure that you do the tummy-time activities when your baby is the most alert, such as after a short nap or after changing their diaper.
How to do tummy time properly
Tummy time is pretty easy to do. Here’s how tummy time should be done:
• Make sure that you set up a soft and safe space where your baby can lay down. You can use either a blanket or a tummy time mat that can be bought in the malls. The ideal spot should be flat surface like the floor.
Tummy-time activities you could do with your baby
• Place a colorful toy in front of your baby. They might not be able to grab it on their own just yet as they are still small, but the colors of the toy will be very fun and interesting for them to look at.
• If you didn’t notice, your baby during this age is very fond of looking at anything that shows their reflection. You can attach an unbreakable mirror to your baby’s crib so he can look at his reflection in the mirror. You can also look at the mirror and point out his eyes, nose, ears and mouth.
• Singing nursery rhymes for your baby is music for them. You can even clap your hands or even recite a poem. Mother’s voice is the most comfortable for them.
• Get some books with bright colors and high contrast patterns and pictures that are easier for them to see. You can read them the story and point to the pictures in the story.
• You can let your baby lie on your stomach, their head facing yours, then talk to them as if they can understand you. Your baby will try to lift up their head to see your face.
• Do tummy time after bathing and give them a little massage from head to toe. It will not only relax them but also help stimulate their muscles.
• Lastly, you can also help them focus their eyes by laying them on the floor and showing them a toy about 10 inches above their head. Slowly move it from side to side letting their eyes follow.
What if my baby hates tummy time?
Some babies love tummy time while some can’t stand lying on the floor. But don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem to like tummy time, we have some tips for your baby to overcome this.
Introduce tummy time slowly. Not all babies can go for more than 2 minutes during their first tummy time. Don’t worry, it is perfectly normal. Wait a few more weeks and they will be able to withstand as long as 30 minutes per day!
Do other tummy time activities. Don’t make tummy time a serious activity. Tummy time should be fun! Make it interesting by adding some activities mentioned above.
Give extra support. A thin towel or a blanket can give your baby support. Just roll it up like a burrito, put it under your baby’s chest, help him stretch his arms over the roll. Make sure that his nose, chin, and mouth are away from the cushion to prevent suffocation.
Don’t be stressed. It’s okay if your baby does not like tummy time at first. They may hate it today but tomorrow they might like it. Don’t think too much about it as your stress may affect your baby. Fret not, give them time and they’ll surely love tummy time after!
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