by Shellie Spradlin
Tummy time - what a pleasant alliteration. Not only does it sound pleasant but it's good for your baby. Those important core muscles -- the ones that help him to gain head control, sit, stand and eventually walk are strengthened when he wiggles and plays on his tummy. Moving weight off the back of the head also helps prevent plagiocephaly or flat head.
However, tummy time may not be all sunshine and smiles. Often your pediatrician will not mention that some babies hate being on their stomachs; they just mention tummy time is essential for proper physical development. So, here you are with a screaming baby and frazzled nerves. Surely there is something you can do to strengthen those muscles fun for your little one. Here are a few tricks that may make tummy time more enjoyable for you and baby.
- Lay him on your tummy to get it started. Many times we already do this without realizing it can start tummy time exercise. When he gets use laying on your tummy transfer to the floor will be a bit easier.
- Get down on your baby's eye level. If baby can see you it may help her relax and enjoy. Rub her back and legs; she may like a little massage while she gets her tummy time in.
- Put an infant mirror in front of him. Infants are fascinated with looking at themselves in the mirror. Just make sure the mirror is for infants and will not break.
- Prop her up on a boppy pillow or with a rolled up towel under her chest/upper arms so she can get tummy time but not be flat on the floor.
- Sing to her, babies love repetition and sounds. They especially love momma’s voice. So, belt out a beautiful melody or even play peek a boo.
- Sit about 2 feet in front of him rolling a ball back and forth. This will encourage baby to reach to try to grab the ball. Eventually he will begin to inch forward to gain access to the ball.
- Use a brightly colored play mat with rattles and fabric strips. These will encourage baby to raise her head to reach, remember to use toys that can be brought to her mouth. She will want to taste and will get frustrated if she cannot pull it to her. Tag quilts; yarn or fabric strip pom-poms are great for baby to chew on. Just make sure yarn and fabric is secure.
- Baby may enjoy watching you do your exercises or helping as a weight. Any motion will catch his eye and watching you do those leg lifts can be pure entertainment.
- If she just totally refuses to settle while on the floor for tummy time. Try laying her across your lap while you do your favorite hobby (reading, crochet, etc) or while you eat. Sometimes babies just do not like to be on their tummies. Don't worry. She will gain her muscles strength whether she gets her tummy time on the floor or on your lap.
- If 20 minutes is just too much, break your tummy time into several more management segments. As the weeks go by and he discovers he can move and bat at toys, this floor time will become pleasant for everyone.
Shellie Spradlin is a long time Pregnancy.org contributor and beloved member. As mom to three beautiful girls, two boys and a 1995 angel baby, Shellie has experienced both the pains and discomforts of pregnancy along with the excitement and joys! Shellie resides with her family in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky.
Copyright © Shellie Spradlin. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.