Tummy time is one of the most important things you can do with your new baby.

It is important that tummy time is done when your baby is awake and supervised as we know all babies should sleep on their back as this reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Tummy time is best started from birth and in the early days may be on your chest when you are lying down. Your baby will want to look at you as you are their favourite ‘toy’ and they will lift their little head up and try to get eye contact. Even a newborn baby is able to lift their head and turn to the other side when on the tummy.

As your baby grows rapidly in the early weeks and months, so does their head and if you are not doing tummy time regularly their head will quickly become too heavy and they will dislike tummy time.

Even if your baby dislikes being on their tummy, please try to continue some short periods of tummy time as it is very important to strengthen back, neck and shoulders ready for later pushing up and crawling. It promotes motor development and may reduce flat spots on the head by regularly taking the weight off the back of the head.

There are many strategies to increase tummy time even if it is disliked, I call it tummy time by stealth:

  • Carry your baby over your arm on tummy
  • Lay baby on your chest when you’re lying down
  • Bath them over your arm on tummy
  • Lay them across your lap on tummy
  • Try placing them tummy down on a large exercise ball and gently roll forward and back by holding their ankles
  • Get down on the floor next to or in front of them
  • Try a mirror on the floor, babies love looking at themselves
  • Try an activity mat with interesting colours and textures
  • Play some fun music or sing to your baby
  • Give your baby a back massage

Don’t leave your baby on their tummy if distressed as it may set up a worse aversion to tummy time. Pick them up and try again later.

The safest place to do tummy time is on the floor as one day they will learn to roll. Place a rug or mat on the floor for comfort and a nice clean space.

With practice your baby will gradually be able to lift their head higher and for longer periods with more control. By 8 weeks of age your baby should be able to lift their chin up off the floor and hold it up for some time.

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You may also like to read:

Tummy Time 101 for New Parents

Unsettled Behaviour in the Newborn Baby

Gut Health for Kids