Tummy time!

She’s not go­ing to like it at all at first, but flip­ping baby over onto her tummy has huge long-term ben­e­fits. Spend­ing time on her tummy al­lows your baby to see things from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and pre­pares her body for crawl­ing

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

WHY IT’S SO IM­POR­TANT Ac­cord­ing to Liezl Bothma, a pae­di­atric phys­io­ther­a­pist, it is re­ally im­por­tant for ba­bies to spend time on their tummy. Firstly, it en­cour­ages them to lift up their heads. This pro­motes good head con­trol from a young age. As your baby de­vel­ops, she will sup­port her­self with her arms and lift up her chest. This ac­tion strength­ens her shoul­der, arm and back mus­cles. As she gets older, she will be able to reach out with one hand while sup­port­ing her­self with the other.

START EARLY You can start plac­ing your baby in the “prone” po­si­tion (on her tummy) from birth (start­ing with very short pe­ri­ods). “The ear­lier your baby starts spend­ing time on her tummy, the bet­ter. Each baby will de­velop in her own time, but plac­ing your baby on her tummy from early on pro­vides good stim­u­la­tion and aids de­vel­op­ment,” Liezl says. She rec­om­mends you start tummy time on your lap. This way you can rub your baby’s back to stim­u­late her mus­cles. You can also try mas­sag­ing her, which should en­cour­age her to feel more com­fort­able in the po­si­tion. Your baby might be quite un­com­fort­able on her tummy at first, as it’s an un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tion. Don’t de­spair, though. Your baby’s tol­er­ance will in­crease with time and a bit of en­cour­age­ment.

FUN ON THE TUM When your baby is a lit­tle older she will gain more con­trol over her head. If she can’t quite sup­port her­self on her el­bows, Liezl rec­om­mends gen­tly plac­ing her el­bows un­der her shoul­ders as this will give her more sup­port. You could also play “aero­plane” with her. Lie on the floor, bend your legs and place your baby on her tummy against your legs, with her head at your knees. Move your legs up and down, while hold­ing your baby firmly. She’ll love the mo­tion!

As your baby gets stronger, place a toy in front of her and en­cour­age her to reach for it. As she gains con­fi­dence and strength, move the toy fur­ther away, or hold it up a bit so that she needs to reach up for it. Even­tu­ally your baby will start push­ing up on her hands. Some ba­bies even en­joy be­ing placed tummy down on a big ex­er­cise ball, and be­ing held while the ball is gen­tly rocked back and forth.

Liezl doesn’t be­lieve in set­ting aside a cer­tain time of the day for tummy time, but she does rec­om­mend ba­bies do ac­tiv­i­ties on their tum­mies as of­ten as is prac­ti­cal. Don’t let your baby sleep on her tummy, and re­mem­ber to al­ways keep an eye on your baby while she is spend­ing time on her tummy.

TIPS FOR HAPPY TUMMY TIME • Keep your baby com­pany: Your baby might feel un­com­fort­able on her tummy, es­pe­cially in the be­gin­ning. The best way to dis­tract her from this dis­com­fort is to get down on the floor with her, or place her on your own tummy if she’s still very young. Talk to her while she’s spend­ing time on her tummy, play with her and her toys or even make funny faces at her. • Pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment: Keep your baby from get­ting bored or frus­trated by giv­ing her some­thing with which to keep her­self busy. Prop a board book open in front of her, which will also en­cour­age her to use her hands and arms as sup­port. You could even in­vest in a tummy time ac­tiv­ity mat. These have mir­rors, squeaky toys and lights at­tached to them, en­cour­ag­ing your baby to spend time on her tummy while learn­ing. • Time it right: Your baby will not en­joy tummy time if she is tired or hun­gry. She might also feel un­com­fort­able if you place her in the prone po­si­tion on a full tummy. • Tune in to your baby: If your baby finds tummy time very dis­tress­ing, try to find out why. In­ves­ti­gate to see if she’s cold, or has some­thing caught un­der her. Try to find out what makes your baby hap­pi­est while she’s on her tummy, and what makes her un­com­fort­able. YB


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