By Kim Amato, Founder of Baby’s Bounty
It’s so much fun to watch your baby notice an object, reach for it, then invariably put it in their mouth. The first step towards engaging your baby in Play Time is to set aside several short spurts of activity each day (no more than five minutes). We suggest placing your baby on their tummy to help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles and to promote certain motor skills. Eye muscles also get stronger as baby looks around during Tummy Time.
This is the best time for you and other family members to bond and interact with the baby. Do this when baby wakes up from nap time or after a diaper change, never when drowsy. It can be scary for baby, though, because it’s a brand new activity. Just spread a blanket on the floor, place a toy or two within reach and get down on all fours for some face to face encouragement to reassure baby that he can do it and it’s OK! Start talking and cooing and watch your baby react to your voice. As baby grows bigger and stronger these sessions can last longer as they help build up their strength to sit, roll over and crawl. Never leave the baby unattended during Tummy Time.
Tummy Time can be implemented in other ways, too, like laying baby on the tummy to dry after a bath or placing baby across your lap while burping.
There are more benefits to Tummy Time. In October of 2016, The American Academy of Pediatrics re-confirmed their recommendation from 1994 that babies should sleep on their backs. Sleeping on the back means some babies might develop a flat spot on the back of the head. This is cosmetic and will disappear over time. But it might mean that baby isn’t getting enough exercise to strengthen those neck and shoulder muscles. Sitting in a car seat, swing or bouncer is not the same as Tummy Time and can contribute to those flat spots.
Changing the direction baby lies in the crib from one week to the next will also alleviate the flat spot. One week face the baby’s feet to the left and the next week face the feet to the right. It’s also helpful to hold your baby upright when cuddling. Sing songs or tell a story and make lots of eye contact while baby follows the sound of your voice (and exercises those neck muscles).
By Kim Amato,
Founder of Baby’s Bounty