If you have a baby you’ve undoubtedly heard people talking about tummy time! It’s so important but so many babies seem to dislike it. What’s a mum to do? Read on for why you must persist with tummy time – and how to encourage your baby to enjoy it!
Why is tummy time important?
Tummy time is important as it:
- Develops shoulder control
- Develops neck and head control
- Develops back extensors (muscles)
- Develops balance reactions and the ability to shift weight from one side of the body to the other
- Leads to commando crawling and pivoting on tummy
- Enables baby to pull knees in under tummy (with increasing abdominal control) and then start reciprocal crawling
- Allows the head to have pressure-free time (since babies are slept on their backs, flat spots can develop).
How do you encourage tummy time when a baby dislikes it?
Some babies find tummy time difficult to tolerate. This may be the result of reflux or low muscle tone. Other babies may seem unenthused at first by the novel position but will quickly become accustomed to it, especially if family members interact with them.
Here are some tummy time tips:
- Put baby down on the floor frequently. Lie them on back or side and roll them over onto tummy
- Start with short bursts, e.g. 30 seconds, and gradually increase the time
- Place a towel under their chest to help elevate the head and shoulders
- Put them on your tummy so they feel close to you
- Give them lots of praise and encouragement, pat them gently and talk to them so they are reassured. Get down on the floor with them so they can see you.
- For babies with reflux, do tummy time before a feed
- Further for reflux babies, lie them on a slope so their head is above their tummy.
If you are concerned about your baby’s ability to lie on their tummy, consult a paediatric physiotherapist for more advice. Please do not be deterred in continuing this very important skill for your baby!
About the Author: Emma Armstrong is physiotherapist with 12 years’ experience in paediatrics. She is clinician and manager at Therapy and Learning Centre (TLC) (02 9476 0766) a specialist paediatrics Physio/OT practice with centres in Hornsby and Bella Vista in Sydney, NSW.
For the past 8 years Emma has trained under a podiatrist who specialises in biomechanics, which has developed her passion and understanding of lower limb alignment and development. Emma is a mother to two small children and enjoys cycling when she can make the time!