Tummy time often turns into a chore when trying to keep your bubs intrigued long enough for them to benefit fully from this important position (and maybe have a hands-free moment or two!).
Why tummy time?
Tummy times strengthens the head and neck muscles as well as the core and upper body. It builds the foundation for all movement, including rolling, crawling, walking, and other motor-planning tasks.
Because babies spend most of their time being snuggled and cradled or on their backs when sleeping, it’s important to get them positioned on their tummies during awake time.
Start with 2-3 minutes several times a day and increase their time from there. Tummy time can and should start right from new-born stages.
It should be a fun bonding time for both you and your little bub!
So, without further ado, here are some ideas to help make tummy time a little more fun and perhaps make momlife a little bit easier.
- In those early days, tummy time can seem a bit daring and anxiety-provoking! Baby is after all a tiny little ball of delicate goodness. To make this process easier and SO rewarding, try out the ‘chest – to chest’ tummy time position. It’s a wonderful time for bonding, healing, emotional connection and as a bonus, your baby will be getting those head and neck muscles working as they look toward making eye contact with you. All because their greatest motivation lies before them – YOU.
- Try using a rolled-up fleece blanket or feeding pillow for support under the chest – make sure baby’s arms are supported on the pillow. This will help ease your little one into more prolonged periods of tummy time. Make sure to be stimulating your baby in their visual field either with their favourite toy or with yourself. Later on, this same feeding pillow position can be used to support and encourage baby to push up onto their hands (extended arms during tummy time is a pre-crawling milestone and will encourage a belly crawler to get up on all fours).
- Try using black and white flashcards or baby’s first blocks as a stimulating piece during tummy time. These high contrast colours will grab your little one’s attention especially since their vision is still developing in the early stages of life. Babies tend to see high contrast colours better than they do lighter, more pastel colours. While you’re working the core and neck muscles, you’ll also be working on baby’s visual skills at the same time, strengthening their eyesight.
- Over the lap tummy time- a super-easy way to get your baby’s core, upper body and neck strengthened! This can be done practically any time of the day and requires no real prep. #winning
- Sensory Water box while baby is positioned on their tummy. All you really need is:
Perspex dish/plastic dish
Fill with water
Add some fav floating toys
Put baby on tummy and allow to explore
You’ll be stimulating:
Core muscles as baby lies on their tummy and reaches for water
Sensory exploration and sensory processing
Fine motor skills
- Water Mat – This is a great way to get your little bubs to build some baby abs – with an added sensory input. A simple water mat can be bought for just over R100. Start with less water in the mat and increase as it suits you and baby. If you decide to place your baby on the mat itself, more of their core muscles will be used as the surface is uneven/wobbly. You can also choose to have your baby on a flat surface and use the mat placed in front of baby as a visual-sensory stimulus. This works especially well if your baby still needs easing into tummy time position. Your little one will want to reach and grab the objects inside the water mat, it’s so cute and at the same time a great pre-crawling milestone!
- Mirrors, mirrors and more mirrors! What better way to have some good old tummy time! Babies generally love looking at themselves in the mirror – they’ll laugh and smile and discover self-awareness. This is also a great chance to build a positive self-image as they will start to associate the enjoyable mirror time with seeing themselves.
- Another way to keep them occupied in tummy time position is to use books in an upright position – you can place them at different points around them and encourage pivoting motion (another pre-crawling skill) or you can simply place it in front of them and have them reach for the brightly coloured pictures… and most probably try and mouth the book itself!
- Helping Hoola
You’ll need: All sorts of ribbon, textured materials and objects, such as satin, felt, crinkly materiel, organza, pegs, links etc. You can use anything baby safe! And you’ll need a Hoola Hoop.
Tie the pieces of materiel all around the hoop.
Attach the objects and place baby in the middle.
This is a great way to fill their visual field giving them a visual and tactile sensory experience while building endurance and strength as they are positioned on their tummy. It will also once again encourage that pre-crawling pivoting motion too.
- Sensory Bottles are also a definite win for tummy time and while your little one strengthens their core, this idea will also promote crawling skills as they try and go after the rolling bottle. Research shows this is also a great way to help calm children and assist with self-regulation.
All you really need for this mess-free idea is:
Empty transparent bottles
Sequins, glitter, water beads or anything shiny
Fill with water and voila!
- Bonus Idea: Sensory packets/ sensory board
Again, you’ll need:
Strong buff tape
Objects to put inside the bags which can range from paint, rice, sequins, etc.
Lastly, try and include tummy time in your daily routine, such as nappy changing time or after bath time, it’s a win!
My name is Tasha-Leigh. I am a first-time single mama to my six-month-old son and an occupational therapist with a passion for paediatrics, women, and youth empowerment. I also enjoy writing as a liberating form of expression with the hopes that it may bring both inspiration and encouragement to all those who encounter it.