Last Reviewed September 11, 2014
Playing With Your Baby
‘Tummy time’ is the time that your baby spends lying on her stomach while she is awake.
Once your baby’s cord has fallen off, you can put her down to play on her tummy or her side. Start with just a few minutes several times a day and gradually increase the time as your baby gets used to this new position. Make sure you’re watching her when she’s on her tummy.
‘Tummy time’ is important because it helps your baby learn to:
- Hold up her head and get strong enough to turn her head from side to side
- Get up on her elbows
- Get up on her hands with straight elbows
- Roll from her tummy to her back and then onto her tummy again
- Shift her weight to reach for toys
- Crawl forward on her tummy and then all fours
It can even help keep your baby from getting a “flat head” (which happens when baby always lies the same way).
‘Tummy time’ Ideas:
- Lie on your back and have her lie on your chest
- Lay your baby down on a clean, firm surface (like a mat on the floor)
- Avoid putting your baby down on a high surface like a change table because he could roll off
- Sit or lay on the floor with your baby while she plays on her tummy. Holding up toys or objects will help her to develop reaching and grasping skills
- Remember, blankets and quilts can block your baby's face and prevent proper breathing
- If your baby gets tired and falls asleep, you can roll him gently onto his back to sleep.
Ways to prevent flat head
Remember to change the position of your baby's head when you put him down to sleep on his back. The idea is to give your baby a different view of the room and encourage your baby, while sleeping on his back, to turn his head to look at different things when he wakes up.
Here are some other things you can try:
- Move mobiles and crib toys to different sides of the crib. (Don't forget, some household items make great inexpensive toys such as paper towel tubes and colourful plastic containers).
- Change your baby's head position from side, to back, to side especially if she has one side she spends a lot of time on
- Limit the amount of time that your baby spends in car seats, infant seats, swings and strollers (Babies should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time while awake).
- Change positions when feeding, carrying, holding and playing with your baby
- Once your baby has good head control, increase her time in an upright position.
Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend that babies sleep on their backs on a firm surface to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).