Tummy time is when your baby spends time laying on their stomach while supervised.
Tummy Time play has become an important part of development in recent years; this is because parents and professionals are now strongly advised to sleep babies on their backs for safety reasons. This means that for babies to develop their core skills and cross lateral brain connections we need to compensate for them sleeping on their backs by providing and encouraging tummy time play. For further information on safer sleeping go to www.lullabytrust.org.uk
Tummy time play during waking hours is important to the motor development of babies as it allows them to gain head and body control. Motor control develops in a ‘cephalocaudal’ fashion, which means a baby first gains control of their head, then their shoulders and then their abdomen and so on down to their feet.
Developing head control allows babies to visually explore everything around them and this strength will prepare them for crawling as well as getting them ready to push up, roll over and eventually to stand. Without tummy time, babies may miss out the crawling stage altogether which could impact on their learning and development and their toilet training later on!
As well as gross motor skills, tummy time play encourages babies’ fine motor skills. For example as they grasp at your clothing while you hold them across your legs or on your chest or they grasp at a blanket they are lying on as they balance on one arm to reach for toys.
Having tummy time also helps the development of a baby’s skull. With babies spending more time on their backs, paediatricians have noted an increase in flatheads or misshapen heads. Babies’ skulls are still quite soft and constantly lying on their backs without changing the head position can cause a flattened effect on the back of a baby’s head.
Place babies on a firm, flat surface on their tummy with their arms forward – a rug on the floor is best, as a soft or padded surface makes it too hard for a baby to move. To begin with, even on a firm surface, moving on their tummy is hard work for babies and they will tire quickly and as this is something new, a baby might not like it for more than a few seconds! The answer is to persevere with very short but frequent periods of play; allowing them to gradually build up the strength and learn to move more efficiently.
Games to help babies become more confident with tummy time:
****Remember, never leave a baby on their tummy unsupervised****
For more information about tummy time click the link on the sidebar.