From a very young age, it is important that babies be given playtime on their tummies. This helps develop strength in the neck, arms, and trunk which your baby will need to eventually sit up, crawl, and even walk! Tummy time also provides your baby with an opportunity to see his environment from a different perspective. But what are you supposed to do if you don’t have a lot of floor space for your baby to play on his tummy or if your baby seems to be upset every time you put her on the floor? Don’t worry, there are many other options!
Lay Baby on Your Chest
If you are lying on your back on your bed or couch, you can lay your baby on her tummy on your chest. This will give your baby a chance to interact with you face-to-face, which often distracts her from the fact that she is on her tummy! This technique is especially helpful for babies who are trying tummy time for the first few times.
Lay Baby Across Your Lap While You Sit
You can lift your leg closest to his head a little bit higher than your other leg so that he is at an incline, which makes it easier for him to hold his head up at first. Then gradually lower your leg (after your baby is able to hold his head up with 1 leg higher) so that he is lying flat.
Carry Your Baby Like Superman
Lay baby on her tummy across 1 or both of your arms and make her “fly” around. The movement is often fun for babies, especially if you make sound effects! If there is another person available, they can get your baby’s attention by talking or with a favorite toy to encourage her to lift up their head.
Utilize an Exercise Ball
If you have a medium to large exercise ball (or even just a large playground ball), you can put your baby on it to do tummy time! Many babies really enjoy this, but sometimes need to get used to it first. You can gently roll your baby slightly forward, back, right, and left. He can also learn to push through his arms while lying on the ball.
Remember that your baby should only be placed on her tummy when she is awake and when she is closely supervised by you or another responsible adult. Also remember that sometimes tummy time can be a struggle for your baby (and you!) at first. Babies are often not used to this position and they have to work hard to keep their heads up and look around. Try giving your baby short periods of tummy time throughout the day (maybe only 30 seconds!) and work up to longer periods of time. If you continue to persevere, your baby will probably start to enjoy tummy time and you will notice him getting much stronger!
By: Melissa Weisenstein, PT, DPT