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A big part of parenting is supporting baby's development. One of the key activities that can help this is Tummy Time. We spoke to Moira, a health visitor from One to One (north west), to find out more...

Babyplay - Tummy Time Activity Toy

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Tummy time comes highly reccommended for young babies; can you explain what it's about?

Tummy Time is the period while baby is awake, that they spend on their tummy.

Following the 'Back to Sleep” campaign babies nationwide found themselves on their backs for much of their early days, causing them to miss out on all that time that used to be spent lying on their tummies.

What are the benefits?

Tummy time is very important to encourage the motor development your baby needs for activities like sitting, rolling and crawling.

It's also an excellent position to prevent head-flattening, as it relieves pressure from the back of their head.

The muscles which lift the head are attached at the back and when they work during Tummy Time they can help to round out the lower part of the skull.

What can parents do to encourage more tummy time?

There are a variety of activities to keep the baby spending a significant amount of time on their tummy. For example; placing baby face down on their parent's chest, while they lie flat, or placing baby on their tummy across their parent's legs.

Babies can be placed face down on a mat or blanket; you can even use a rolled up towel, which can be placed under their chest, to raise them up.

Another approach is the 'tummy down carry' or 'football hold' placing one hand under the baby's tummy and between their legs to carry them facing down.

Lotty Light & Sound - Tummy Time Playmat & Gym

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What areas of a child's development can it enhance?

In the 'tummy time' position a baby learns to take their weight through their arms, push up and move from side to side, which helps them to reach and crawl. As a baby gets stronger it provides a good position to learn to move and explore their surroundings. Using toys encourages baby to reach forward and to the sides, it encourages weight shifting which is needed for crawling.

Another important aspect of Tummy Time is that it helps them develop cognitive skills, otherwise known as thinking and reasoning skills.

When baby plays on their stomach, they are able to manipulate toys and play in their environment differently than they can when lying on their back. It gives them a different view of the world.

What age would you recommend is best for parents to start introducing tumy time to their baby?

Babies can start Tummy Time from day one, but Tummy Time activities should be dependent on baby's age and temperament.

For newborns in particular, Tummy Time activities should centre on carrying and calming baby.

Are there any do's and dont's surrounding tummy time?

It's important to place baby on their tummy after routine activities such as nappy changing or bathing. Baby will begin to get used to Tummy Time as part of their daily routine. Tummy Time should only be carried out when the baby is awake, alert and happy.

Also, it's best if parents get down on the floor at baby's eye level. Always supervise the baby during Tummy Time and never allow the baby to fall asleep while on their tummy.

Babyplay - Tummy Time Activity Toy & Rug

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How frequently, and for how long should this activity be done?

Many sources suggest that parents should try to give their baby 30-60 minutes of tummy time each day using a variety of activities.

That can be in a single episode or over several shorter periods throughout the day, increasing to 90 minutes as baby gets older.

Magic - Stargaze Stripe Playmat

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What should parents do if they find their baby isn't comfortable and starts to cry when placed on their tummy?

If your baby doesn't like being laid on the floor, start by giving them Tummy Time in your arms. And when the baby is used to being held this way, start trying to introduce some time on the floor.

Try a little and often approach, e.g: 10 lots of 6 minutes over a day.

Babyplay - Tummy Time Octopus Playmat

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How can parents monitor their child’s progress? What are the key developmental stages that they need to hit?

Monitor baby's ability to move their head. By 4 months, they should be able to move their head to both sides when lying on their back and can lift or hold their head, neck & chest upward when placed on their tummy.

By 6 months, baby should be able to roll from their back onto their tummy and reach for an object with both hands. By 9 months, baby should be able to sit independently with good balance, moving into a crawling position.

They can reach to place toys into the palm of their hands and transfer between hands. By 12 months, baby should be able to pull up to the standing position at furniture & 'cruise', babies can walk with both hands held, they can take items out of a container and can use a 'pincer grip' to pick up small objects.

For more information visit - www.onetoonemidwives.org

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