Baby developmental stages can be harrowing for both mum and baby. As anxious as we are for our little ones to grow and develop, we kind of want them to stay little forever (tell me I’m wrong!). So, when it comes to your newborn gaining new mobility skills, sometimes it’s harder to accept that your little one is slowly becoming more independent. And one of the most important developmental stages for your newborn is something known as tummy time.
Why it’s important
Tummy time aids your newborn in strengthening those neck and back muscles, and also being more aware of their surroundings. As hard as it may be to watch your little one on their tummy trying to lift up their heads and look around, you need to power through it, just like them. It is so important.
Tummy time can start around the 3-4 month mark, and will last up to 5-6 months when your little one will start picking themselves up a bit more and even rolling over (another big milestone).
Tummy Time Tricks
Tummy time can be hard on mom and baby because baby is going to get pretty frustrated. I remember watching my son, face-down on the ground, squawking and crying and fumbling to get his hands under himself and to lift his face off the floor. It’s hard to see it, but it’s oh-so necessary.
So, here are a few things you can do to help baby feel more comfortable:
Tummy to Chest
For starters, you can lay down on the floor with baby and put your newborn on your chest, tummy to tummy to give them a softer surface to lift their head up from. It will also comfort them to feel you and smell you there. The only danger there is that if you have a breastfeeding baby, they may instead focus on finding the food source instead of lifting their head up and strengthening those neck muscles!
Be there with them
Even when your baby is only a few months old, they’ll appreciate the moral support and they need to be watched carefully when they are first starting out tummy time. It can be dangerous to leave a baby on their tummy and walk away. There is a risk for suffocation if they are on a fluffy mat or something that could potentially cover their airways completely.
Find a Tummy-Time mat
There are lots of tummy-time playmats out there on the market, some are simply soft and padded, while others offer up different textures, attachments, and bits to stimulate your baby and get them to want to lift their heads and move their arms and hands around to explore more. This playmat is suitable for children of all ages and can be configured in many different ways to fit your style!
Roll up a small towel
If you want to help encourage your baby lifting up their shoulders and neck off the floor during tummy time, you can help facilitate the movement by rolling up a small towel and putting it under their armpits across their chest. Make sure baby’s neck is strong enough to support their head properly before you try this little aid, this is not for beginner tummy-timers!
Place toys just out of reach
Once baby gets the hang of lifting his/her head up and chest, you can encourage movement and starting the drag/shuffle movement by placing favourite toys or items JUST out of reach. This might seem like a tease, but trust me; it works! You’ll end up using the same sort of tricks when baby takes his/her first steps! This toy is suitable for newborns and includes colorful beads that make fun sounds – it will surely fascinate your baby and keep them entertained.
The joys of Tummy Time
As tough as it might be to watch your little one get frustrated in the beginning, you need to breathe through it, just like your baby will have to learn to breathe through it, too. This is all part of your baby’s normal developmental stages and it needs to be done. Be there for baby, engage with them as they learn and adapt, and participate in the whole process by putting yourself on their level and tummy-timing with them! It can be so much fun, and trust me, you’ll appreciate having those moments when they get older.