If you’re wondering when to start engaging your baby in tummy time, then I guess a lot may depend on your baby. For us, our baby had good neck strength early on, and she also wasn’t that fussed on being on her back. So it was almost like she was destined to get into tummy time quite early. But even if that’s not the case, it’s still recommend that you try doing tummy time early, often and in short bursts. You can pretty much start right from the off with a newborn.
What I have here are a few things that I love to do to help with tummy time. These things are more to keep a baby entertained, exercised and strengthened than they are to get them to hurry up and crawl. After all, there’s no rush in getting your baby to be mobile, trust me on that one. Let’s begin:
Using Props for Tummy Time
You can pretty much use anything for this one. Rollers, nursing pillows, towels, anything that’s soft and can give a little life. After all, it’s all about allowing them to lift their head up and prevent them hitting the floor. I would often use props every morning as part of Isabelle’s daily routine. Admittedly, I did this to try to form a bond as I suffered with postnatal depression in the early days, and wasn’t really thinking about much else.
Anyway, here she is back in the day using her little roller.
Give Them a Reason to Move
This is a nice easy one, but it’s also one that can be quite effective. If you really want your baby to move forward, then simply give them a reason to do so by keeping something out of reach. This is a little bit like the clock game, which I’ll explain later, but on a smaller scale.
Also, if you’re a really cruel person, you can always poke it along every time they get close to grabbing it. Of course, you will risk making your baby cry, but it you’re happy to take the risk, then feel free to do it.
Crawling With a Towel
This is one for when they’re actually trying to move a little more, but aren’t quite there yet. It’s also relatively simple, and all you have to do it put a towel under their stomach and give them a little bit of a lift to help take their weight in the hope that they’ll start moving forward. This isn’t one we used much of as Isabelle held her weight quite well, but she’s a very light baby, but if you have one on the heavier side, this might be an option.
Just Move Them Along Yourself
If in doubt, just show them how it’s done by moving them along yourself. I would put Isabelle up on all fours, then see if she would do anything from there. Often she would just flatten back out, but occasionally she would do a weird little back and fore movement.
Occasionally I would get a little more involved and shift her along slightly myself. Maybe just move one leg forward and see if she moves the other. It’ll take a lot of time for them to realise what to do, but our brains respond very well to repetition, and a baby is no different.
And if you’re feeling really enthusiastic, you can always engage their mirror neurons and let them watch you crawl around on the floor. I do this quite a lot with Isabelle and we’ve basically turned it into a game of chase. Part of how we learn to do things is by watching and then imitating. So hopefully this will work in that way.
The Clock Game
This is one of my favourite things to do, and it’s basically the advanced version of keeping things out of reach. It’s called the Clock Game. Trademark pending.
It’s hardly a complicated thing to do. You just put a bunch of toys into some sort of clock, and place your baby right in the middle. They effectively can then act as the ‘hand’ of the clock and move around the mat. You’ll actually be surprised at how much they can manage to get around. It’s full of things that they really want to grab, and often they’ll get to one and then realise they want another one, and then they’re off again.
Well that’s my five ideas to help your baby with tummy time. Just try to remember some of the following tips:
- Do it early, often and in short bursts
- Make it part of their daily routine
- Go at your babies own pace
- Don’t worry about how quick they develop, everyone is different
- Try to enjoy it!
And if your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy tummy time, just keep the sessions short. Don’t turn it into something that they dread, and try to find something that works for you and your baby. Maybe they’ll have to do it on you for a while before moving to the floor. Eventually they’ll get into it, just take your time.
If you have any other ideas to help with tummy time, then feel free to leave a comment below. If it’s a great idea I might even steal it, add it to this post and pass it off as my own! Also, if you want to read about what the NHS have to say, since they’re professionals and I’m not, then you can do so here. And if you’re past the crawling stage and after standing tips, then I have a post about that too.