How to Help Your Baby with Tummy Time and Learning to Roll Over
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Congratulations on your family’s new addition! This is undeniably an exciting time for all but in the midst of all the joy, you might be feeling a bit at a loss on how to help your babies reach their early milestones. Here are a few tips from BabyFirst’s Chief Educational Officer, Todd Eller, PhD.
Tummy time is a great exercise to help babies strengthen their head, neck, and shoulder muscles in order to improve their motor skills. Be sure to never leave babies on their stomachs while unattended.
0-3 months is an ideal age for tummy time. Lay your babies on the floor on a comfortable surface, such as a carpet or mat and make sure to keep them far away from stairs or sharp corners and edges. Make sure to only lay them down on the floor and not on high surfaces, such as a couch or bed. While they might not be mobile at the moment, this can happen in the blink of an eye and caution should always be taken.
Start by placing them down on their tummy and lay in front of them as low as you can, keeping yourself eye to eye with them. Keep them engaged with music or by singing to them. This stimulates their brain and energizes them to keep going. You can also place soft toys and dolls or a mirror in front of them as well. Babies love looking at their reflection.
You should begin to see them supporting their neck and raising up their head to look around. This usually happens at around 3 months.
You can do tummy time using yourself as a prop. This also works as a great bonding exercise for you and your babies. Lean back on some pillows or a beanbag so you are at an incline but not reaching the floor. Lay them on your stomach or chest and let them try to crawl up your body while pulling at your shirt and reaching for your face. You should see them lifting their head to try and look at you, so always keep eye contact with them and engage them by singing or speaking to them. Always be sure to keep your arms high up at your sides to protect them from rolling off your body.
If you feel that your baby isn’t ready for either of these exercises or isn’t responding correctly to them, you can always try “Tummy Time Carry”. Hold your babies in the “football position” by laying their tummy down on your forearm. They should be looking down at the floor over your arm. Rock them back and forth gently while singing or speaking to them. This gives your baby a new perspective and point of view. Look for signs of them holding up their head and controlling their neck while looking around.
Tummy time is an important first exercise as it helps babies understand how to control their muscles so they can learn to roll over, crawl, pull themselves up, and eventually, walk.
Once they have mastered the art of tummy time, they can begin to practice rolling over. While they need to have voluntary natural movement and learn to roll over on their own in order to acquire that skill, you can always assist him along the way.
Lay them down on their back on a comfortable surface, such as a carpet or mat making sure, as always, to keep them away from stairs or sharp corners and edges. At all times, make sure to keep them low on the floor and not on high surfaces such as a couch or bed.
Place a soft doll or toy at their side or lay down close enough to them but giving them the room to roll over when they are ready. Keep talking or singing to them and keep them entertained and engaged. Your babies should be turning their head to look in your direction and in time you should begin to see them reaching for you or the doll and trying to roll over. If you see them making an effort but can’t yet roll over all the way on their own, try giving a little nudge from the back of their shoulder to complete the task for them, making sure not to force or push.
Do this daily, and you will see that they will require less and less assistance as time passes.
All these exercises should be done after your baby has napped and is alert and ready to play. If you see them laying their head down to the side and not engaged, they might be too tired to cooperate and interact. These exercises work best if your babies are entertained. If they begin to cry or whine, take a break and try again later.
Keep in mind that sometimes these exercises can take a while and cause frustration for both you and them. Combining these exercises with parent/child bonding makes it a lot more pleasing and enjoyable!