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When we had our son, I vaguely remember my doctor telling my husband and I to do lots of tummy time. As she was giving me these instructions, I thought yeah, yeah, sure no problem. How hard can it be? I just thought I would place him on his tummy and he would play with toys and entertain himself and then just magically learn to crawl!
Then, we got him home.
We tried and tried but my son screamed every time we put him on his tummy. Me, being a first-time mom, would always rush to his rescue and soothe him as quickly as possible. Needless to say, after a couple of months of Reece screaming every time I placed him on his tummy, I stopped pushing it with him, and as a result, he never did learn to crawl. He went straight to walking at nine months and he hasn’t ever crawled a day in his life!
When I became pregnant with my second child, I was determined to get my next baby to enjoy tummy time. It always made me a little sad that Reece never crawled—it is sort of a parenting right of passage to enjoy watching your child crawl for the first time! Also, not to mention that it’s incredibly good for your baby. It helps them strengthen neck and upper back muscles and to develop coordination for mobility.
After asking several fellow parents, doing a bit of research and a bit of trial and error with my daughter Maelie, I have finally figured out a few tricks to help my baby enjoy tummy time. I hope you find these tips helpful, they certainly have helped me!
Use a Propping Pillow: I had never thought of this before, but if you use a pillow to prop your baby on his/her tummy, it will be much more comfortable for them in the beginning and will give them the assistance needed to look up. When I first started doing tummy time with my daughter, she hated it until I found a pillow to prop her on, and then she seemed much more content. There are several little pillows you can use—try a Boppy pillow or most baby play mats even come with small pillows now!
Do Tummy Time on You: There is nothing your baby enjoys more than looking at you! Lie down on the ground and place your baby on top of you. Make silly faces and giggle along with your baby to make it a pleasurable experience. Not only will your baby strengthen muscles, he or she will also enjoy the bonding time with you!
Get Down on the Ground with your Baby: No baby is going to want to be put on the floor and just expected to entertain him/herself. Get on the floor with your baby, encourage and cheer him/her along!
Find a Really Entertaining Toy that Plays Music and Lights up! Find a toy that will really grab your baby’s attention and save that toy only for tummy time. Your baby will be fully entertained and enjoy that time to play with that special toy.
Only Do a Little at a Time: Doing tummy time for brief periods will make it much more enjoyable for your baby. Remember, babies have very short attention spans, so it is unrealistic to think they will enjoy being on their tummy for even 10 minutes at a time. Start with two to three minutes and gradually work up to longer periods over time.
Keep Up With It: Don’t give up or forget to do it. Practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the more your baby will just view it as a regular part of his/her day.
It’s Okay to Be Frustrated: Sometimes you have to allow your baby to get a little frustrated—obviously you don’t want your baby to be hysterical, but don’t rush in at the slightest whine. It’s ok to let them get a little frustrated, it will help them learn to lift themselves and eventually learn to crawl!
Do you have any helpful tips you would like to share with us? What has worked for you and your baby? We would love to hear!
*This advice should not replace the advice of your pediatrician.