Friday, August 28, 2015

10 Alternative Tummy Time Activities

We all know that tummy time is important! Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, back, and shoulder muscles. Not only does tummy time help your child be ready to crawl and walk, it also helps her to be ready to drink from a cup and eat solid foods.

The recommended time for tummy time varies upon who you talk to, but it ranges from 30 minutes up to 90 minutes a day! Gradually work up to 60-90 minutes of tummy time per day by age 4 months. Now this sounds like a lot of time, but you don’t do it all at once. You can do a few minutes throughout the day. Think of it as your baby’s exercise!

I think it’s normal to automatically think of tummy time as placing your baby on her tummy on the floor with a few toys nearby. However, there are a variety of positions you can do tummy time with your baby.

Here are 10 “alternative” tummy time options:
  1. Let your baby lay on your chest. This helps the position of being on her tummy feel more natural later on and also gives you some great interaction and eye contact with your baby!
  2. Make it a part of your everyday routine. Every time you change her diaper, place her on her tummy while you take care of the diaper and clean up. Keep her in a safe place of course. With changing up to six diapers a day, this can easily take 12-18 minutes a day! If your baby is content when you return, take a moment to get down on her level and play a little longer with her.
  3. After her bath time, do the same thing. Let her spend some time on her tummy in a safe place while you take a minute or two to gather her things to get her dressed.
  4. Roll up a small receiving blanket and put it under your baby’s chest with their arms over it. Prop baby up with a small receiving blanket rolled up or a pillow. Keep their arms free in front of them. This allows them to see more around them besides the floor.
  5. Try laying your baby down lengthwise across your knees while providing neck support. Remember to keep the baby's head aligned with their body. You can also move your legs softly from side to side to keep them entertained. If they fall asleep just remember to move them to their back.
  6. The "football hold" is often a dad's favorite way to hold and carry his baby around. Place your baby across your forearm on her belly, chest in your hand, legs and arms dangling. Place your other hand securely on her back. Hold your baby close to you for added support. You can also gently rock the baby up and down. This is also a great position to calm a fussy baby.
  7. Try placing baby tummy down on an exercise ball. Make sure to keep a firm hold on your baby as you move the ball gently forward and backward.
  8. Lay on your back and lift your shins perpendicular to the floor. Place baby on her tummy on your shins and gently sway or lift your legs while holding her arms or side. Not only do you get a little exercise, she feels like she is flying!
  9. Talking about flying, playing airplanes is a great option too! Similar to the football hold, support her body and neck and move her around the room!
  10. Make tummy time fun! Try singing a song, playing peek-a-boo, or playing with rattles or other noise making toys while baby is doing tummy time. Get down on your baby’s level to really enjoy the interaction together.
Don’t get discouraged! Every minute of tummy time really adds up and can make a difference! With any skill-building activity, try to do tummy time when your baby is happy and content. For additional tummy time information, check out this article.

Helpful hint: When doing tummy time, help your baby get equal time on either side of her neck. If your baby begins to favor one side over the other, give her more time on the less preferred side. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have!

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