Tummy Time – What to Expect

Tummy Time – What to Expect

For lots of babies, Tummy Time can be stressful and they just don’t like it, whereas other babies may find tummy time quite enjoyable.  As a result, there can be differences in the speed at which each baby progresses, compared to those who take to it from the onset. In this blog, Therapy Stars will explain exactly what you can expect from your babies during their tummy time period, as well as some tips for helping your baby through this stage.

So, what can you expect from your baby’s tummy time? Tummy time involves placing your baby on their stomach so that they can develop strength in their back, neck and shoulders. However, not all babies find this easy and some of them don’t enjoy it. Therefore, tummy time is often achieved at different stages of each baby’s development ranging from 6 weeks old to 6 months old. 

Keep reading to find out more about your baby’s tummy time including what to do if your baby doesn’t like tummy time.

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What to Expect From Tummy Time

Top Tips for Tummy Time

What Should I Do if My Baby Doesn’t Like Tummy Time?

What to Expect From Tummy Time

Tummy time plays an important part in your baby developing through their milestones, but just like other developmental  milestones, they can be reached at different stages depending on each baby. Below we have detailed what you can expect from your babies at various ages with regards to tummy time progression.

Premature Babies (born before 37 weeks gestation)Premature babies tend to require post-birth support to help them cope with the first couple of weeks after birth. Consequently, some babies don’t progress as quickly due to the complications of premature birth and this can result in them not getting much opportunity to explore or progress with tummy time. This is why it is important to keep in mind your baby’s corrected gestational age. 
6 Weeks Old By 6 weeks old, your baby may start to move their head when their face is cheek to the floor. When they are initially placed on their stomach for tummy time, your baby may be positioned curled up. This is highly likely if they had adopted the tucked position whilst in utero. You may also start to notice that they may attempt to lift their head for a few seconds at a time.
3 Months OldBy about 3 months your baby should be able to push up onto their elbows and lift their head to about 45 degrees, but it may still be turned to the  side. Typically, they will have their elbows behind their shoulders and should be able to tolerate tummy time for at least 1 minute at a time, if not longer, without becoming upset. It is important to keep an eye out to make sure your baby is happy and comfortable to turn their head to each side and is not developing a head turn preference. .
6 Months Old By 6 months they will usually be able to lift their head fully and turn to either side. They will push up with elbows in front of shoulders and may even have started to shift weight for rolling and/or reaching.

Top Tips for Tummy Time

So, you and your little one have been practising, but he/she is still not keen on lying on their tummy or participating in any tummy time activities. The question is…how can you make both your lives a little easier? Below we have detailed some helpful hints and tips to help with your baby’s tummy time progression. 

Get Down on the Floor: 

It may seem simple and even a little obvious to say, but a great tip is to get yourself down to the floor to the same level as your baby. Babies love seeing faces, especially familiar ones like Mum or Dad. Get down onto the floor so the baby can see you when they are on their tummy. This often helps to settle them if they are unsure of this position and you can also entertain and distract them for short periods so that they tolerate longer Tummy Time. It’s also a great chance to bond with your baby face to face.

Roll Up a Towel/Blanket:

Another handy tip would be to roll up a small towel or blanket and place this under your baby’s chest, because this will give them a little help to lift their head and clear the floor. Often babies don’t like not being able to move their head away from the floor, so this should help. It can also help if your baby suffers from reflux or colic. Taking a little pressure off that upper chest area can be more comfortable for the baby.

Baby on a towel

Use a Water Mat:

Water mats are a product that we love here as Therapy Stars and we regularly use one that is full of water and floating fish to add the extra element of fun for your babies. It gives your baby something to entertain them, and also provides a different texture and surface for them to practice tummy time on. You can still use this with or without a roll under the chest, depending on what your little one will tolerate.

Baby on water mat

Use a Lamaze Spin & Explore Baby Gym

As trained physiotherapists, at Therapy Stars, we would always argue that Tummy Time is far better achieved without gadgets or container toys. However, Lamaze Spin and Explore Baby Gym can be a great tool for short periods of time. It can be particularly useful for those who have babies who just do not enjoy or tolerate tummy time in any other format! It also helps your baby to learn about movement and strengthen their head, shoulders and back whilst making it all slightly easier.

However, we would always suggest that these are used for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. What’s more, tummy time should always be attempted and encouraged without this tool initially, but can be used as a way to help your baby gain their strength and confidence with tummy time to start with. 

Baby on Lamaze Spin & Explore Baby Gym

Be Creative

Finally, it is important to note that Tummy Time does not always  have to be in the traditional position of your baby using a mat on the floor. Tummy Time can also be attempted with a baby on your tummy, so that you are face to face. Your baby can be carried across your arm, on their tummy (as long as their head is supported as needed depending on their age). This all counts towards their Tummy Time practice. You may also find a position that your little one will tolerate better. What’s more, if you notice that your baby enjoys playing with a particular toy, you can always use that as a way to encourage them to engage in Tummy Time. Mix it up and have a go!

Baby playing with toys

What Should I Do if My Baby Doesn’t Like Tummy Time?

Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital can be worrying, nevermind navigating growth through their milestones. This is why it is important to not put yourself under too much pressure. However, if you notice that your baby is not progressing with their development in the way that they should, we would advise to discuss this with a health professional such as your GP or a Health Visitor. 

However, if you have real concerns, you can book your baby in for a Baby Development Check with one of our Paediatric Physiotherapists by clicking here. This can provide you with some peace of mind and advice on how to help your baby progress with tummy time. 

Baby Development Check up with Therapy Stars

Therapy Stars offers a variety of services to meet all of our client’s needs. We have a fully-equipped Physiotherapy clinic just outside Wrexham where our team of qualified physiotherapists offer bespoke treatment to each child. 

Therapy Stars offer a Baby Development Check service which is ideal for you if you are finding that your baby is not cooperating with tummy time. We can provide guidance on how to help your baby become more comfortable and confident with tummy time and continue with their developmental milestones. 

If your baby is struggling with tummy time and wish you gain some extra support, don’t hesitate to get in touch by clicking here.