Tummy time is likely to be one of the first development activities you do with your little one. After all, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the NHS recommend introducing tummy time from the first week of your baby’s life.
But why is it so important?
Physical Development: Tummy time is how your baby will start to develop the muscles in their head, neck and shoulders - all of which over time will help them tackle those big milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling and walking (trust us, it comes around far too quickly…).
Visual Skills: Tummy time gives your little one a whole new perspective on their world…literally! This can help them develop their sense of balance, while allowing them to explore their environment in a new way and keep them curious.
Bonding: Tummy time provides direct interaction and play, as well as the opportunity to really soak in this amazing developmental stage, which is a fantastic way to bond together.
When we think of tummy time, we often picture individualised play, with a child on a playmat or similar. Although this is fantastic for our little ones as they grow and become more confident in their physical abilities, with many outlets recommending this style of tummy time from 4 months onwards, it can leave newborns feeling a bit out in the cold and frustrated with the process.
Why not try:
Tummy (time) to tummy (time): Lie down yourself and place your baby tummy to tummy, or even tummy to chest. This is a really comforting position for many newborns - as well as yourself! - and can be a really powerful option for those really early stages. This is only recommended if you’re feeling alert and not likely to fall asleep however, as babies shouldn’t be left on their tummies for extended periods.
Eye level tummy time: Stay at the same level by placing your baby on the sofa or bed, and maintain eye contact while singing and talking. Here you can even try moving your position slightly as you communicate, and see how your baby moves their eyes and head to follow.
Lap and tummy time: Lay your baby across your lap for comfort - massages and back tickles are fantastic ways to calm a frustrated baby! - or play. This is also a great way to bond together, as you can have the baby on your lap while your partner or family members engage in eye level tummy time.
Tummy time on the move: Carry your little one with their tummy down (securely!) on your arm.
When starting out with tummy time, try to only focus for a couple of minutes at a time and a couple of times a day. You might find some of the different tummy time styles happen naturally throughout your routine! Then, as your baby grows out of the newborn stage, try to build up to up to five minutes at a time, several times a day. It’s recommended to aim for around one hour of tummy time overall per day by the time they reach three months old.
Remember, this can be a scary new position for babies - what did we say about seeing the world from a new angle? - so it’s important to keep initial periods brief and engaging, then gradually lengthen them when your baby is ready.
If you’re worried about keeping on top of tummy time, many of our Onoco families recommend using our custom logs feature (available with Onoco Premium), where you can add any activity that’s relevant to your family. They also come with timers, so you can easily stop and start sessions on the app and see your overall tummy time progress over days, weeks and months thanks to our insights.
Remember that tummy time is play time, and babies should never be left on their front to sleep. To see more about safe sleeping, we recommend The Lullaby Trust who can provide additional information and support.