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The Importance of Tummy Time
As with most mums and dads, you know that it is safest to put your baby to sleep on her back. Nonetheless, did you know that it is equally important to put your baby on her tummy for a few moments each day when she is awake?
According to experts, tummy time is an essential part of your baby’s growth process. When she is lying on her belly, she will try to look up, left or right to see what is happening around her. This helps to exercise and strengthen the muscles in her neck, arms and back, giving her better control over her head and upper body. In fact, research suggests that babies who get an adequate amount of tummy time learn to crawl, roll over and sit up earlier than those who do not!
Not only that. Because your baby’s skull is still soft and hasn’t yet ‘set’, ensuring that she is not on her back all the time may help her avoid developing a flat spot at the back of the head.
So when and how do you start giving your baby some tummy time?
You can begin incorporating short periods of tummy time into her daily routine as early as two weeks. When she is awake and alert, lie her on a clean mat on the floor, or on your lap for about 30 seconds to a minute, a few times each day. At first, she may just lay her head down or try to curl up. She may also kick up a fuss, being in a position she isn’t used to. If that happens, just calm her down and try again a bit later.
As she grows, you can slowly increase the duration to help her develop further. Generally, aim for three to five-minute sessions each day when she is two months old, building up to 10-15 minutes each day as she gets older and gains better control of her movements.
Make tummy time more interesting by placing her favourite toys close to her. Move them from side to side in front of her to attract her attention, and encourage her to follow their movements. You can also tuck a nursing pillow under the armpits to give her better support as she tries to reach for her toys.
Remember to always get down to baby’s level and speak to her continuously to let her know that you are right there with her. More importantly, never leave your baby on her own during tummy time, and allow her plenty of rest in between so that she is fresh and ready for the next session.