Early on, as early as when you take your baby home from the hospital in some cases, your babies pediatrician will tell you to put your baby on his tummy so that he can enjoy tummy time. Why is tummy time important though, and what are you supposed to do if your baby doesn’t enjoy it?
Importance of Tummy Time
Until recent years, doctors used to ok the practice of placing babies on their bellies to sleep. Having so much time on their bellies, babies would learn easily to lift their heads, push themselves up, and roll over. All which are the basics of later actions such as sitting, crawling and standing.
However, when it was discovered that having a baby sleeping on his back reduced the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies, tummy sleeping became a no-no, and tummy time became very popular. It is important that a baby has time on his belly in order to strengthen his neck muscles, and work on the essential developmental milestones.
Enjoying Tummy Time
Unfortunately, not all babies enjoy tummy time. Many times your baby will cry as soon as you place him on his belly, fighting this time when he is supposed to learn. He won’t embrace the concept of playing, and will instead just want to be held. This time may get frustrating for you as a parent, but it is important to not let your frustrations show.
First, let your baby think it is no big deal. Introduce tummy time as a new game; something fun that your baby can do. Remember that your baby’s attention span is very short, so as soon as he starts fussing, showing he is bored, pick him up cuddle him.
Second, get down on the floor with your baby. You can sit on one side of him, opposite of his face and call to him, encouraging him to turn his head to face you. You can even lie down on your belly next to your baby and talk to him, keeping your face between 8 and 12 inches away so you know he can see you.
Third, applaud when your baby reaches a milestone. Children, even this young, thrive on praise. Whether your baby is lifting and turning his head, or rolling over for the first time, let him know you are proud of his accomplishment.
The best time to start getting your child accustomed to tummy time is when they are first home from the hospital. Before they get too used to any one way of “being”, whether that be in a swing, on their backs, or in your arms. Starting your baby with even 15 minutes of tummy time a day when you bring them home is sure to make both of your lives easier down the road.
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