Why is tummy time important for development and learning
Some babies love tummy time, some babies find tummy time stressful. The goal is to try and make tummy time as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible.
Tummy time is important for developing a baby's neck strength, core strength, visual tracking, and hand-eye coordination.
In the image below, you will see an image of Phoebe propped up by cushions in to a tummy time position. Phoebe loved tummy time as a baby, still does love tummy time. However, Hugh found tummy time stressful as a baby.
When Hugh hated tummy time as a baby I used to use cushions like this image to position him in a modified tummy time position.
I would then lay or sit on the other side of the cushions where Hugh and Isla are playing music, and I would sing to him, read to him, or play peek-a-boo with him to distract him in this position so that he would stay in this position for as long as possible. At the start Hugh had an endurance of about 30 seconds. So during his next play time, I would try and distract him in the same 'propped up' tummy time position for 35 seconds.
Using a pillow, make sure that the baby has enough strength to hold their own head up away from the pillows. If they don't have enough neck and core strength, then lay them on your tummy as you lean back on a couch or as you lay down on your back on the floor. Resting the baby's tummy on your tummy can strengthen baby's neck and core muscles while being comforted and distracted with a nice warm cuddle.
Knowing how important tummy time is for a baby's neck, spine, visual tracking, and reflexes, I started making tummy time fun for my children from a very early age. I would often roll a ball back and forth, set up mirrors in front of them for them to look at, to get 1 minute to catch my breath I even used Isla and Hugh's technology to encourage Phoebe's tummy time.
'Use cloth nappies', 'eat organic food', 'don't let children watch the TV', 'sing nursery rhymes' and 'read 10 books daily'. What I like to do is empower parents with the education about why tummy time and crawling is important. I avoid making parents feel guilty about their child's development because even my children have sat up with cushions, spent hours in a pram so I can get out of the house, and eaten whatever packet food I could find in my house until shopping day.
I like to be realistic and supportive by teaching parents how to incorporate simple games and activities in to our busy day to help boost your child's development without feeling judged or pressured. For example, rolling a ball back and forth to baby on their tummy is both fun for parent and baby. You get to see them smile as the ball approaches them, over a few weeks you also get to see their motor skills improve as they slowly pass the ball back to you. My other favourite tummy time activities are playing peek-a-book behind a teddy bear, singing their favourite songs with puppets.
My spine gets a well deserved stretch and a workout as I lay in tummy time, and I'm excited to know that my children's spine and core strength is developing at the same time.