Babies need to build up their muscle strength to roll, move and eventually crawl.
Right from birth you can turn babies onto their tummy for a few seconds everyday; perhaps following a nappy change, or after their bath.
Tummy time gives babies the opportunity to lift their heads and shoulders which helps to strengthen their back, shoulder and neck muscles. Most of a baby’s major motor skills develop from the tummy time position, preparing them for further and more strenuous movement and exercise. Experts suggest there is a link between freedom of movement in a young baby and the baby’s brain development.
Some babies love being on their front, while others take longer to feel comfortable. Starting early as part of a daily routine, e.g. after changing their nappy, will help to encourage tummy time from birth. As your baby grows and becomes stronger you can increase the time each day. Spending up to 3 - 5 minutes on their tummy as you cream them after their bath, alternatively just for the fun of it, on a play mat or gym.
Health professionals recommend tummy time as an important activity especially now it is recommended that babies sleep on their backs.
As your baby matures, place toys or objects where they can be seen during tummy time in order to stimulate your little ones interest. Allowing your baby to see your face also, stimulates activity during tummy time, getting down on all fours and playing peek-a-boo is fun and may encourage your baby to eventually engage in more advanced movement e.g. rolling and crawling.
By 2 months most babies can hold their head off the floor; by 2 - 4 months they can usually hold their chest up off the floor.
As your baby matures you can vary time on the floor by turning him on his side and frequently changing his position. Eventually encourage equal amounts of time on tummy, sides and back. Observe your baby as he slowly explores his environment as he is learning to play and occupy himself.
Once your baby starts to wiggle and move about freely it is a good idea to assume he could roll over or off any surface at any time. Never leave your baby unattended on any elevated surface.
Minimize time spent sitting in baby equipment in favour of time on his mat. This includes, baby bounces, car seats, swings, chairs and baby jumpers as babies need time to stretch, kick, roll and develop their muscles in order to strengthen their rapidly developing body.
Below we show recommended tummy time mats and toys
Click on a picture to read reviews.