Tummy time is recommended from birth to strengthen baby's arms, back and neck muscles and prevent the back of his head becoming flat. Jay L. Hoecker, M.D, of the Mayo Clinic, says babies should not sleep or be left unattended on tummies, but the position will help move them toward milestones of rolling and crawling. If your baby does not like lying on his tummy, there are ways you can help him learn to enjoy it.
Make sure baby is nice and comfortable by using a soft surface like a bed and a fleecy blanket. Your baby may feel more comfortable on his tummy if you take his clothes and diaper off, making sure the room is nice and warm. This way he will not have anything pressing into his tummy and the feeling of being naked may add to his enjoyment. It is best not to make tummy time straight after a feed as his full tummy may not feel comfortable. Try to position his arms in front of him as he can eventually start to use them to lean on. Don't make tummy time too long to begin with; HealthyChildren.org advises that a newborn only needs three to five minutes two or three times a day, which can gradually be increased.
Your baby may enjoy the sensation of your fingers running gently down her back while she lies on her tummy -- this works better on bare skin. You can also stroke her cheeks, tickle her toes and gently massage her hands, feet and legs. If she is feeling a bit uncomfortable or unsure, this touching may help to put her at ease. Massage will also relax her muscles, helping her whole body feel more comfortable.
Keep your baby stimulated with lots of visual aids. Dr. Sears says young babies like to look at bright colors, stripes and black and white objects, so place some of these around your baby to catch his attention. Wave noisy toys, such as rattles or scrunchy toys for him to look at, or wiggle your fingers in front of him. You could also play some music during tummy time, as this sound stimulation may be another way of distracting him from any anxiety about this new position.
Your baby loves listening to your voice, so try reclining beside her and singing or talking. You could also place her on a bed and sit on the floor so your face is level with hers. Tummy time can also work if you lie on your back with baby on her tummy on your tummy. You make a warm and soft surface, and she will love being that close to you and looking into your face. Another way of introducing tummy time is by laying her across your lap on her front.
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