Little Routines, Gillian Stewart

Tummy Time
Gillian Stewart, Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It was about twenty years ago that the campaign to change babies sleeping positions, began. It was part of a list of recommendations to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome.

As we all know babies should be placed on their backs to sleep. However some parents seem to carry this further and put their babies on their backs at all times.

Tummy time for your baby should be introduced as early on as possible. The earlier the better.
Babies need to strengthen their neck, tummy and arm muscles. This leads to them being able to hold their heads up by themselves, rolling and eventually crawling, which are all important development milestones.

It has been noted that for some babies this development is slower than others. It is linked with babies being placed on their backs during wake time and also being supported in car seats and bouncer chairs for much of the time.

Many parents are unaware what tummy time is, even though they have heard of it.
For one family I worked with, it was massaging their baby's tummy.....

Pop your baby on a blanket or mat on the floor on his tummy, making sure your baby's head is turned to one side. Encourage your baby to put his arms up either side of his head. Crouch down to floor level and talk and smile at your baby. Lay out some toys or prop up some books to encourage head turning. Shake a rattle or use musical toys.

Try to do this daily with your baby but only for a short while to start with and then extend the time a little each day. A good time to do this is just before your baby's bath, as part of nappy free time. A changing mat on the bathroom floor is the perfect place.

As your baby gets older and stronger you can roll up a towel and put it under his arms. This helps to raise your baby a little. A breast-feeding cushion can do the job well, too.

It is lovely when babies learn to support their own head and roll over, as this allows them to find their own comfy position for sleeping, often meaning a better nights sleep for everyone!

As with everything, some babies love tummy time but others hate it. Do try and persist but if your baby really doesn't like it, try not to worry. All babies will eventually reach the milestones in their own time.