We are all aware of how important tummy time is for optimal brain development for our children. When our children actively lift their head, they not only strengthen the muscles of their neck and back, they also stimulate a certain part of their brain responsible for motor development. As a chiropractor, my goal is to empower parents to embrace the early developmental years and have fun with this exercise. Below are various ways, with images, you can perform tummy time.
I always advise parents’ to start with short bursts of active tummy time where bub is alert and actively lifting their head. This is a great time to connect with your little ones by laying with them, singing and chatting to them. We don’t want them to get overtired and start getting irritable. A great time of the day can be with each nappy change, after a bath or between feeds whilst burping.
For newborns, there are a number of simple positions to help encourage them to lift their head:
● Whilst reclining back over the couch, lay them on your chest
● Whilst you’re sitting down, lay them across your lap
● Whilst multitasking or walking around, lay them horizontal along your forearm
Tummy time can also be fun by laying bub with their tummy on your shins whilst your legs are in table top. This can be also be a great core workout for parents too!
An even more fun activity is tummy time on an exercise ball. Supporting bub’s pelvis on the ball in the tummy time position and rolling the ball forwards and backwards (allow their body to go past horizontal as per images below). This can be performed for approximately 60 seconds and is great for stimulating their vestibular system, which is the balance system of their brain, also important for brain development.
As your baby gets older, they will become happier performing tummy time on a mat on the floor. It would be great to experiment with different coloured and textured mats to deepen their sensory experiences or place a mirror in front of them.
In terms of developmental stages of tummy time, in the early weeks you would want bub to lift their head for a few seconds and turn left and right. By approximately three months, bub should strongly lift their head for a few minutes with some support on their elbows. Here they will also do some superman style tummy time with arms stretched backwards and legs kicking. When they reach approximately 5 months, bub will be able to stay in tummy time for longer periods happily and may push up in an upward facing dog yoga pose and start rolling too!
I hope this has provided you with some tools to make tummy time more enjoyable for you and your little ones. If your bub does not enjoy tummy time or you simply would like further information, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call the clinic on 9376 7474 and I can answer any questions you have.
Written by Dr Carla Vescio