Tummy-time doesn’t have to be a battle although it can feel like it when your babe is protesting. Starting tummy-time when they are newborns is a great place to start but it can be hard to find when to fit it in. In the first few weeks, it feels like they are sleeping, feeding, pooping, and crying on repeat. The ‘awake and ready to play’ window for tummy time just doesn’t seem to happen. Keep trying but often parents find it easier the older they get. Generally from eight weeks on they have longer ‘awake’ periods. It is also good to try and work out what might be making tummy-time less enjoyable for your baby. This might require an external pair of eyes but things like reflux, neck and shoulder strength or family history of very flexible joints can be factors.
How can we overcome the tummy-time battle?
- Set the right expectations. They might only manage 20 or 30 seconds their first few times before they start getting grizzly.
- Alignment helps. Help position their elbows inline or slightly in front of their shoulders and tucked into their side. When they are first learning to push up on their tummy, they often struggle to keep their arms against their side.
- Get creative and try different positions. Tummy-time can be over your lap, supermans in the air when you bring them through from their bedroom, lying tummy to tummy on your chest, lying across a big ball (starting semi-upright (way easier for them), after a change on their change mat.
- Use distractions and keep it fun. Get down to their eye level, try lying face to face on the mat. Use a mirror to see themselves or crinkly noisy fabric that they can explore.
- Practice practice practice. They need to build up their muscle strength and endurance. Roll them off their tummy, keep it playful, after a short rest, try again. Practice a few times in a row. It is also important to practice tummy-time on the floor or a firm surface (carpet or mat) as this is where they will learn how it feels to have weight through their shoulders, forearms, and tummy it is very different from lying tummy to tummy with you. They will feel little weight shifts that are vital for reaching and crawling development.