Isn’t it exciting, seeing your baby reaching those milestones and witnessing them developing before your eyes? Before you know it, they are rolling over, then crawling then going off to University…ok so maybe that last step is a step too far but you get the gist!
But did you know, supporting your baby on their journey towards taking their first steps can start as soon as your baby is born? Yes, really!
Tummy time is one of the first exercises your baby can do to aid their visual, sensory and motor development.
Not sure what Tummy time really is? Put simply, it is the time a baby spends on their tummy! For all the mummies out there that baby wear – great news! Carrying your baby in a sling or carrier does count as tummy time! Fabulous!
The reason tummy time is so important for a baby’s development is that it strengthens their neck, back and shoulder muscles – helping
them for their future of sitting up independently, crawling, cruising the furniture and then walking. It also helps your baby develop awareness of where their body is in space, that their hands and feet belong to them – ever watched your baby staring at their hands, clasping them together and grabbing at their fingers, that little look of confusion or fascination? That’s your baby developing their proprioceptive awareness.
If you are ready to try tummy time but don’t know when or how to start, I’d say the most important thing is getting the timing right! You want a happy, calm and relaxed baby to make sure the experience is positive for both baby and mama. You’ll know when the time isn’t right, if your baby starts grizzling or getting upset, it’s best not to pursue it and instead pick baby up and give lots of re-assuring cuddles, not that you ever need an excuse to do this! I wouldn’t recommend attempting it when baby is hungry or has just been fed – this is likely to end in tears and potentially the reappearance of their feed! Try just after a nap or nappy change and see how you get on!
It’s also worth noting that it is important not to try tummy time for too long with your baby, dependant on their age you probably want try it 2 or 3 times a day from 1 – 3 minutes for a newborn to 10 – 20 minutes at a time for a baby 6-9 months. These are obviously just guidelines, you know your baby best but even if it is just for a minute or 2 throughout the day, it will have huge benefits to your baby’s development.
Of course, there are a few things you can do to help make tummy time even more fun for you and baby! Distraction is key! Sensory kits and toys like foil blankets can distract and stimulate their vision! Mirrors are great too! You could try safely propping up a small mirror in front of baby, it can help encourage baby to lift their neck. Pat mats and colourful books can stimulate play and will help make this a fun activity for your baby.
More than anything, tummy time is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your baby. It is a lovely chance for you to make positive memories together. One of my favourite ways to incorporate tummy time was to lay down, place my baby on my tummy and sing to them. As well as being a chilled out and easy way to do tummy time, it really does have it’s benefits. It creates a calming effect and helps build communication and language. Skin to skin has been proven to help baby calm by regulating their heart rate and temperature.
Tummy time has so many benefits, from kickstarting your baby’s development to creating positive memories and establishing a wonderful bond between you both. Remember to enjoy and cherish these moments with your little one!