The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are placed on their backs for sleeping and on their tummies for supervised play time as part of their daily routine. So many of our carriers, including car seats, car seat stroller combos, bouncers and swings put our kids into a supine (aka, on their backs) position and make it more challenging to incorporate tummy time into your day. As a PT, I was that person who was making my babies start their tummy time as soon as we were home from the hospital. My oldest and middle child were fairly content with what I referred to as classic tummy time, on their stomachs with maybe a receiving blanket rolled up under their chests and me on the floor in front of them. Then, along came my youngest child, who is also profoundly deaf.
She HATED tummy time! It wasn’t until later, when I was chatting with our Early On teacher about my daughter’s hatred for the position, that the explanation became very clear. A hard of hearing child is very reliant upon his/her sight for input to their system. Tummy time, especially early in life with less head control, limited how much of her environment my daughter could see. So just like I advocate with my own pediatric patients, I definitely used some alternative positions with my own child to make sure we got in that all important tummy time every day!
A few Pointers for varying Tummy Playtime Positions:
- Tummy Time Over a Towel Roll or Boppy Pillow: Place your baby with his/her chest over the rolled up towel or Boppy, with arms either bent or straight. Getting down to the level of your baby encourages eye contact.
- Laying Baby Across your Lap: Lay your child across one or both of your legs with her arms hanging over your legs. Place your hand on her back or hips, keeping her calm and stable. Can also burp your baby in this position. Can alter the height of toys in front of her to work on more elevation of her head.
- Tummy to Tummy position: You the adult lie down on the floor or bed (either flat or propped up on pillows) or lie in a recliner. Put your baby on your chest so you are looking face-to-face. Hold your child for safety. You can change the angle of your incline if your child seems to be fatiguing at a lower/flatter angle.
- Tummy-Down Carry: Slide one hand under the baby’s tummy and between the child’s legs while carrying baby tummy down. Keep the baby close to your body.
Right after diaper changing is a good time to do tummy time as your baby tends to be awake. Start with 1-2 minutes every time you change your baby and work up from there. Your goal is to try to work up to an hour a day in short intervals by the end of 3 months but remember that every minute of tummy time counts. Tummy time is extremely important for your child’s development and needs to become a part of your child’s daily routine!