*Tummy Time Tools
*Taken from “Activities to Help You Position, Carry, Hold, and Play with Your Baby” by Colleen Coulter-O’Berry, PT, and Dulcey Lima, OTR/L
Why Do Babies Need Tummy Time?
Babies need tummy time because they are spending more and more time on their backs, largely in part to the Back to Sleep program and the wide use of infant carriers outside of cars. This combination of back sleeping at night and daytime pressure on the infant’s head can create a flattening of the skull. Increasing the amount of time your baby lies on his tummy:
- Promotes muscle development in the neck and shoulders
- Helps prevent tight neck muscles and the development of flat areas on the back of the baby’s head
- Helps build the muscles your baby needs to roll, sit, and crawl
Tummy Time Is:
- Always supervised—never leave your baby alone on his tummy
- Any activity that keeps your baby from lying flat in one position against a hard, supporting surface
- Anytime you carry, position, or play with your baby while he is on his belly
- Beneficial to babies of all ages
- Adaptable and changes as your baby grows and develops strength
- A great time to bond with your baby
- Alternate the hip your baby straddles to encourage looking, turning, and balancing in both directions.
- Hold and carry your baby facing away from you to encourage him to watch the activities in the room by turning his head.
- Carry your baby belly down, with your arm supporting underneath his chest. Younger infants will need their heads and chest supported, but as your baby gains strength in the neck and trunk muscles, less support is needed.
Positions for Play
- Lie on your back and hold your baby on your chest facing you. This will encourage your baby to lift his head to look at you.
- Place a pillow, small towel, or blanket under the baby’s chest to help your baby lift and center his head.
- Play on the floor with your baby. Place toys on both sides to encourage turning of the baby’s head and reaching with both hands.
- Place your baby on your lap. Raise one of your legs higher to make it easier for him to lift his head.
- Adjust positioning so the baby can watch you with his head centered, rather than off to one side.
- Place the baby in your lap facing you. Sing, make eye contact, snuggle and center his head, as needed.
- Place fun and interesting toys equally on both sides of your baby to encourage turning to both directions while on his tummy or back. Change the side your baby lies on, even if he prefers just one side.
- Feed your baby in one arm, then switch to the other side for the next feeding, so the baby begins to look and turn equally to both sides.
- Sit with your back supported and knees bent. Position your baby against your legs, facing you. Feed your baby with the head positioned in the middle.
- Try placing your baby belly down on your lap when burping.
- Position your baby on his back to sleep.
- Place your baby at the opposite end of the crib every other night.
- Turn the baby’s head to the opposite side each night to keep it from developing flat spots