For years, experts have been stressing about the importance of placing babies on their back while sleeping to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) but when your baby is awake, being on their belly is just as important.
Tummy time plays a vital part in your baby's development. Placing your baby on their belly for short intervals when they are awake can help prevent flat head syndrome, also known as positional plagiocephaly.
Flat head syndrome is a condition where babies head becomes misshapen or flattened and unfortunately, some children require medical treatment such as a helmet to reposition the shape of their skull.
Unbeknownst to many, lack of tummy time can cause delays in important physical milestones. However, introducing simple floor-based play will help strengthen their head, neck and back muscles.
Tummy time helps your baby to develop the skills they will need to crawl and roll over while also strengthening your baby's neck muscles promoting good neck control.
This will help your baby stabilise their head when it comes to sitting, standing and walking. It also helps increases your baby's ability to reach out and push up encouraging them to interact and play with his or her surroundings.
There are so many ways to approach tummy time and make it fun and interactive for babies of all ages. In the newborn days, skin to skin is perfect and the sooner you begin encouraging your baby to lie on their tummy, the more likely they will be to accepting time on their belly as a natural position.
Simply lay baby down on your chest and as they get older, introduce a playmat with age-appropriate toys. Or you could just prop baby up on a pillow or blanket. It is important to interact with them so get down on the floor with your baby and sing or talk to them.
Some babies enjoy tummy time more than others and that is okay. For example, babies with reflux may not like tummy time at first, so it is advised to start with shorter periods of tummy time and as they grow older and stronger they will be able to tolerate it a little more and hopefully learn to love it as they move around a little more.
If your baby continues to dislike tummy time you can wait a few weeks and try again but in the meantime, take steps to avoid your baby's head from lying in the same position when awake and by alternating sleep positions.
Try to avoid bouncers and car seats for long periods of time and it might be a good idea to look into a baby carrier for during the day.
And remember, an adult should always present during tummy time to assure the baby is safe at all times.