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Tummy time is essential for a baby’s body and brain development.

In this position, a baby lays the foundations for later learning, concentration, coordination, emotional regulation and postural control.

Most mums would agree that they have been told to include tummy time within their child’s day. But it’s one of those things that sounds easier in theory isn’t it? We give it a try and all we see is the struggle and tears. Some of us rescue our baby in a heartbeat, deciding then and there that there will be no more tummy time.

Others persist for a while but without any improvement seen, tummy time just naturally falls away from our days.

Tummy time doesn’t have to be like this, all dread, angst and guilt. It can be playful and enjoyable. This post will share three simple ways to give your child the benefits of tummy time, with more fun and less stress.

1) Short frequent bursts

Tummy time requires lots of energy and strength, especially in the early weeks of life. If we put our baby down for twenty minutes and expect them to like it, we’re being unrealistic. Tummy time is best offered to your baby in short bursts spread throughout the day. For a 4 week old baby, this may be as little as thirty seconds at any one time. For a twelve week old baby it may be five to ten minutes.

A good rule of thumb is to put your baby on their tummy at the beginning of every floor time. Grunting with effort is fine, however if you hear your baby begin to cry, gently roll them onto their back for more floor time.

2) Entertainment

You don’t need to become a dancing monkey! But if your little one is reluctant to be on their tummy, layer in additional visual, auditory or sensory stimulation for a transformed experience. You could sing a song, blow bubbles or read a book while lying next to your baby.

You could offer tummy time in front of a mirror or massage your baby’s back, arms, hands, head, legs and feet while they are in this position.



3) Add movement

Movement makes the world a happier place and also aids brain development. By adding it to your tummy time routine, you are ticking multiple boxes at once. Here are four for you to try:

a) Tummy rock

This is super simple and a perfect match for those teeny tiny babies. Simply lie on your back and place your baby onto your tummy. Have a cuddle, gaze into each other’s eyes and if you want to add in the movement, simply rock your body gently from side to side while keeping your baby close.

b) Blanket ride

Place your baby on their tummy at the centre of a blanket. On a smooth surface, gently pull the blanket along the ground by holding two of the corners.

As a new experience, go slowly the first few times and be sure to give your baby plenty of reassuring eye contact and conversation.

Over time, you can speed up for some lovely giggles!

c) Flying legs

Lay on your back, with your legs bent, feet on the ground and knees facing up. Place your baby against your legs, tummy down, holding securely under the arms. Now gently raise your legs until horizontal, allowing you to see your baby’s face. From here you can move your legs in and out, so that your baby moves from near to far, side to side (which takes a little more practice) or up and down.

When it’s time for the ride to finish, as determined by tired legs or an unhappy baby (whichever comes first!), straighten your legs and help your child to fly down onto your tummy for a gentle cuddle.

d) Rolling ball

Place your baby onto their tummy on a fit ball or slightly deflated beach ball. Hold securely at the hips and roll the ball ever so slightly backwards and forwards. As your baby grows older and more used to this sensation, you can make the rolling motion more pronounced.

Hopefully that’s given you a few more ideas to try? Just remember that tummy time offers new ways to engage with your baby, a new vantage point from which your baby can observe the world, as well as the right input for healthy development.

Make a decision right now to try out one of these new tummy time ideas. I’d love to hear how you get along in the comments!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Thank you, some great ideas here.

    Reply

  • My sister put her daughter on her tummy on a thick bath towel on the middle of their queen size bed when she was about 7 weeks old. She was going to massage her back before dressing her in a few minutes. It was a warm day so the Mum just kept checking that she wasn’t getting cold
    Bubs rolled herself over onto her back before she was about to start to massage her. She hated the gentlest of massages. She evaded one that day.

    Reply

  • Quite a few different ideas that I would never have thought of, particularly involving mum in tummy time as well.

    Reply

  • i think even just trying to talk to your bub and get their attention is great. they will be curious to see where that sound or squeaky toy noise is coming from. some babies put their head down really quick so maybe chuck a rolled up towel down to cushion this so tummy time doesn’t end in tears.

    Reply

  • beutiful laugh smile how cute so gorgeous

    Reply

  • We always started floor time on their tummy… some great tips.

    Reply

  • he looks like his having fun in the fresh air

    Reply

  • The suggestion to put bubs on her tummy at the beginning of every floor time has been a real winner! Thank you :) I used to be concerned about it making her vomit up more of her milk feed, but I have put that fear aside after reading this and it has worked really well.


    • So pleased to hear that. I found the same with my reflux babies. They didn’t need to be wrapped in cotton wool as much as I thought they did!

    Reply

  • All four of my kids loved tummy time, especially outside. I’d put them on a blanket whilst I was at the clothes line. I was amazed at how young they started rolling or pulling themselves over to the edge of the blanket to feel the grass. I miss this age. Thanks for a great read Clare.


    • You’re very welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Nature is what our body craves, whether we’re young or old. A great spot for tummy time.
      Clare

    Reply

  • I recall how much fun my bub had with tummy time. It was a regular part of our day in various spurts. These are great tips that I’ll pass onto my friend who’s a new mum.

    Reply

  • These are all very easy and sensible ideas to follow.

    Reply

  • Thanks for a terrific tummy time article.


    • Will share these tactics with other Mums’ too.



      • Wonderful to hear that you’ll be spreading the positive message of tummy time!
        Clare

    Reply

  • time tactics

    Reply

  • I found out the hard way that short little bursts will do for tummy time. I struggled with my baby boy because he has reflux and and refused to do tummy time. He really disliked being on his tummy because it would hurt him and he would throw up. Eventually time has oassed and he is happy as larry being on his tummy and is rolling like crazy. :)


    • Wonderful that you persisted. I had 3 reflux babies too and we still managed to get in lots of tummy time. It’s an extra challenge though that motherhood would be easier without!
      Clare

    Reply

  • I love all these great ideas thanks for sharing

    Reply

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