For babies under one year of age, the primary activity that will help their development is tummy time. Ema Bartolo leads Wonderkids, a specialist service offering occupational therapy and sensory integration for children. Here, she guides us through why baby tummy time is important and ways you can incorporate it at home, with practical, easy to digest points.
Why is Tummy Time Important?
- It helps the child to develop the core muscles of the neck, back, and shoulders.
- It allows the child to receive more input to the two important sensory systems involved in your child’s balance and coordination development: the vestibular and proprioceptive systems.
- It encourages your baby to progress through their developmental milestones.
- It prevents early motor delays and conditions such as positional plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome).
- It helps the child to develop their hand muscles and tactile system.
How Should I Do It?
- Break up tummy time into smaller parts, i.e. from the newborn age, start with a few minutes at a time and build up to longer sessions.
- Tummy time should always be when the child is awake and supervised.
- Never put your child in tummy time when they are sleeping
- Once your baby starts crawling, tummy time is not as essential as they will be receiving the benefits of Tummy Time while moving.
What Activities Encourage Tummy Time?
- Have feely mats which you child can explore while on their tummy. Add things like bubble wrap, soft material, and safe lights such as optic fibre or fairy lights.
- Use a small exercise ball to gently roll your child backwards, forward and side to side, and even bounce a little.
- After a nappy change, place your baby in tummy time while you play with them.
- You can roll a towel or have a cushion under your child’s torso to help them prop up and sustain tummy time for longer.
- Lie on your back with your knees up to your chest and hold your baby facing you, with her little body on your shins.
For more specialist services for children in Malta, visit wonderkids.mt, where Ema Bartolo and her team offer a wide range of supportive services from speech therapy and child psychology, to family support and school consultations. You can also visit our Experts Section for access to professional, local advice relating to pregnancy, birth and beyond.