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Saturday, April 9, 2016

HOW TO ENCOURAGE TUMMY TIME and CRAWLING WITH YOUR BABY! Activities for Improving Tummy Time and Crawling by Trisha Roberts

So……in our last blog we talked about the importance of Tummy Time and what Crawling does for a baby’s body and a baby’s development.  But the most frequent statement I hear from parents and care providers is, “My baby HATES Tummy Time!! I feel like I am torturing them when I place them on their stomach. How can I get them to like it?”
Tummy Time Triplets
Tummy Time for Three!

Ideally, you should start placing your baby on their tummy as soon as they arrive home from the hospital or birthing center.  A terrific way to do this is to place them on your chest.  Recline in a chair, sofa, or in bed and place your baby on your chest.  Bare skin to bare skin is ideal, but some babies like to be “swaddled” and don’t like being outside of their blanket or clothes. Bonding occurs between child and parent in this position; as you talk and sing to your baby they feel your chest rise and fall with your breathing and vibrate with your voice.  They can smell you and feel your skin.  It is a delightful smorgasbord for their senses! They will be mesmerized and love being on their tummy!

Tummy Time with Dad
Dad and Baby Tummy Time

Tummy Time on Mom's Chest
Tummy Time on Mom
If your baby is not a newborn, it’s not too late! Placing them on your chest is still a very good way to encourage prone (tummy) position. Get yourself into a comfortable, reclined position on the floor or in a chair. Place your little one on your chest facing you and prop their elbows under their shoulders. In this position you can both be face to face and enjoy some one-on-one time chatting, humming, or singing.  You can tell them about your day, about your hopes and aspirations for them, about all the qualities you love about them! They will answer you with lots of cooing and affection. They will tolerate this position much longer because they are sharing time with you and enjoying the soft warmth of your body.
Bonding with Baby During Tummy Time
Bonding with Baby in Tummy Time

Another excellent way to get babies to stay on their tummies is by placing them on the floor over a “Boppy Pillow” or making a towel roll and placing it under their upper chest and arm pits.

Tummy Time Party
Tummy Time in Triplicate!
Boppy Pillow Tummy Time
Using a Boppy for Tummy Time
 This is helpful for children who do not yet have sufficient strength to lift and maintain their head and upper trunk off the floor. 

Play in Tummy Time with Mom
Play with Baby During Tummy Time

Fun with Mom in Tummy Time
Tummy Time Fun
Make time to join them in this activity--if you place yourself in front of your baby in the same position, the two of you can have great conversations together.  Or you can put a toy between the two of you and you can engage in interactive play. Some great toys for floor playtime can be found here

Tummy Time over an Arm
Tummy Time Over a Forearm

Optional Position for Tummy Time
Tummy Time over a Thigh
Try placing your baby on her belly across your forearm, thigh or legs.

Tummy Time over Both Thighs
Tummy Time over a Lap

If you have an older child who did not crawl a lot or you would like to reinforce crawling with your baby or toddler, Tunnel Play is a wonderful way to do this.  Kids love to play Hide ‘N Seek in a tunnel or go around and around from one end to the other, especially if someone is ‘chasing’ them!

Improve Coordination using a Tunnel
Tunnel Crawling Improves Coordination and Reciprocal Movement

Gross Motor Skills in Prone
Scooter Board Fun Improves Skills
Trunk Strength in Prone
Prone Activities improve Trunk Strength

Even older children can still work on building coordination and reciprocal skills by playing games on their bellies.  Using a scooter board is an excellent way to build strength and use arms and legs.  Let kids swing face down with their belly over a swing. Playing a game of “Slithery Snake” or “Inch Worm” can also engage children in prone activities.

Go slowly and start with just a few minutes at a time.  Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! 5 minutes of enjoyed Tummy Time is better than fighting and crying for 15 minutes of Tummy Time!  Find several times throughout the day when you can relax and dedicate at least 5 minutes to one-on-one with your child.  The investment in time is worth it!  Your relationship will deepen and you will find great joy in the bonding that takes place and in knowing that your baby is developing muscles and skills that will help him or her advance through their developmental milestones of early childhood.

Author:  Trisha Roberts

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