Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

10 Alternative Tummy Time Activities

We all know that tummy time is important! Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, back, and shoulder muscles. Not only does tummy time help your child be ready to crawl and walk, it also helps her to be ready to drink from a cup and eat solid foods.

The recommended time for tummy time varies on who you talk to, but the goal is for baby to spend as much time as they can on their tummies. Do tummy time for as long as the child can tolerate, and once they start to fuss, extend by 15-30 seconds, then change positions. Think of it as your baby’s exercise!

It’s normal to automatically think of tummy time as placing your baby on her tummy on the floor with a few toys nearby. However, there are a variety of positions you can do tummy time with your baby.

Here are 10 “alternative” tummy time options:

  1. Let your baby lay on your chest. This helps the position of being on his tummy feel more natural later on and also gives you some great interaction and eye contact with your baby.
  2. Make it a part of your everyday routine. Every time you change her diaper, place her on her tummy while you take care of the diaper and clean up. Keep her in a safe place of course. Changing up to six diapers a day, this can easily take 12-18 minutes a day. If your baby is content when you return, take a moment to get down on her level and play a little longer with her.
  3. After her bath time, do the same thing. Let him spend some time on his tummy in a safe place while you take a minute or two to gather his things to get him dressed.
  4. Roll up a small receiving blanket or use a small pillow and put it under your baby’s chest with their arms over it.  Keep their arms free in front of them allowing them to see more around them besides the floor and play with toys you have put within their reach.
  5. Try laying your baby down lengthwise across your knees while providing neck support. Remember to keep the baby’s head aligned with their body. You can also move your legs softly from side to side to keep them entertained. If they fall asleep just remember to move them to their back.
  6. The “football hold” is often a dad’s favorite way to hold and carry his baby around. Place your baby across your forearm on her belly, chest in your hand, legs, and arms dangling. Place your other hand securely on her back. Hold your baby close to you for added support. You can also gently rock the baby up and down. This is also a great position to calm a fussy baby.
  7. Try placing baby tummy down on an exercise ball. Make sure to keep a firm hold on your baby as you move the ball gently forward and backward.
  8. Lay on your back and lift your shins perpendicular to the floor. Place baby on his tummy on your shins and gently sway or lift your legs while holding his arms or side. Not only do you get a little exercise, he feels like she is flying!
  9. Talking about flying, playing airplanes is a great option too! Similar to the football hold, support her body and neck and move her around the room!
  10. Make tummy time fun! Try singing a song, playing peek-a-boo, or playing with rattles or other noise making toys while baby is doing tummy time. Get down on your baby’s level to really enjoy the interaction together.

Don’t get discouraged if your baby doesn’t seem to like spending time on their tummy, every minute of tummy time really adds up and can make a difference. With any skill-building activity, try to do tummy time when your baby is happy and content. For additional tummy time information, check out this article.

Helpful hint: When doing tummy time, help your baby get equal time on either side of her neck. If your baby begins to favor one side over the other, give her more time on the less preferred side. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.

What are your baby’s favorite way to get tummy time?

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