You gotta lie down before you can crawl!
Right from the beginning, babies need to be placed on their tummies when they're awake. It's from the tummy that a significant part of their motor development starts, including rolling, sitting, and crawling.
The first major task in the newborn's development is to get strong enough to hold their head. Therefore, the muscles in the neck, throat, shoulders, and back need to be strengthened. To train these muscles, the baby should lie on their tummy as much as possible. Lying on the tummy strengthens the baby's back and neck muscles, enhancing the ability to bear their weight in the arms and around the hips.
In contrast to the passive back position, the tummy position is active, providing the baby with the opportunity to start rolling and later crawling and standing up. The prerequisite for crawling is that the baby is stable in their arms and can carry their weight. Therefore, you'll often see the little one resisting the floor with their hands, lifting the head and upper body. You can support this skill by placing the baby on their tummy on the floor and giving the child a firm surface and non-slip socks so they have something to push against.
You'll likely also notice that your baby, after some time, lifts their bottom in the air and pulls their knees up underneath. The baby does this to get up and stand on all fours, which is the first step in the crawling training. Get ready because you'll soon be very busy chasing after your baby.
Tips for getting your baby to lie on their tummy:
- Introduce tummy time early on, creating a comfortable environment for your baby to practice – whether it's on your lap, thighs, in your lap, or on your arm in a tummy-down position.
- The key is not to overstimulate or train intensely with your baby. In fact, the advice is to lay the baby on their tummy many times for short periods rather than a few times for a long time. You can even do a quick tummy time after each diaper change. 10-20 seconds are often enough for the littlest ones. They'll get tired of lying on their tummy and may start expressing discomfort, and that's okay.
- Lie down on the floor and let the baby lie on your tummy. Your baby will automatically lift their head to catch your gaze and feel completely secure.
- Optionally, place a pillow or a rolled-up towel under the baby's chest to make it easier to lie on their tummy until they get used to the position. Also, holding the baby on the bottom can provide extra comfort.
- Find something exciting for the baby to look at, like a mirror they can see themselves in or toys that move gently. It's a good idea to lay out a few pieces of toys at a time and regularly switch them to keep the baby's attention.
- You can enhance the baby's joy of lying on their tummy by gently pushing their hands towards each other, making it easier to lift the head compared to having arms stretched out to the side.
- Remember to listen to the baby's signals and needs. The baby shouldn't be upset; it should be cozy and fun.
- Combine tummy time with motor skills exercises - check out our motor skill videos for 3-5 months here.
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