Toys That Bring More Fun to Tummy Time
Tummy Time (positioning babies on their stomachs for brief periods of time while they are awake and with supervision) is an essential exercise that pediatricians recommend new parents begin with their babies as soon as possible, most likely as soon as you get your new bundle of joy settled in at home. The reason is that Tummy Time has many benefits and plays an important part in a baby’s early development. It provides opportunities for sensory stimulation and helps strengthen Baby’s upper body, which are vital foundational skills for good motor development. This will eventually help the baby crawl and manipulate different objects. It also initiates the development of eye-hand coordination, as babies begin to look and reach for toys. Just as with any step in development, you’ll start to see changes in your baby’s ability and approach to Tummy Time as they grow. By the time a baby is around 5 months old, they’re able to hold their head up independently, push up on their arms, and reach around them for toys.
Tummy Time can ultimately be a challenging workout for your baby and not always something they’ll enjoy doing. Just like exercising with a friend or listening to some good music is an excellent way for us to encourage ourselves at the gym, your baby may benefit from a few positive additions to Tummy Time to help keep them focused and having fun. Here are some ideas to make Tummy Time more enjoyable and engaging, and while at the same time stimulating to Baby’s cognition, motor, and sensory development:
Use mirrors to encourage your baby to keep an upward gaze. This also helps Baby stay interested in trying to keep their head elevated, which encourages neck strength. Weighted toys that bounce back into place after being knocked over are another great option. Baby can continuously reach for them and interact independently. Toys like these are also a great way to begin introducing cause and effect, as Baby will quickly begin to learn that just a light push from them will cause their toy to wobble and fall, and then pop back up again for another round.
Crinkly toys, like this newspaper toy, are easy for a baby to grasp and provide excellent auditory and sensory feedback. That not only makes it a fun and easy toy to play with, but also one that is good at keeping Baby engaged.
Play mats and water mats are two more wonderful options, and there are so many versions on the market to choose from. As is my general belief with most toys, less is more. Keep in mind that you don’t need to select the mat with the most bells and whistles, as that can wind up being too distracting or confusing and can cause Baby to lose interest. You’ll just want to select something that can keep your baby engaged and provide a few things for them to manipulate.
The absolute best toy to keep your baby engaged is undoubtedly YOU. Singing, talking, and playing with your baby at eye level will help you bond and also make Tummy Time more enjoyable for them (and for you!). Initially, you may want to use a prop under Baby’s chest to make it easier for them to hold their head up and look at you as you play. Once your baby is bit older and has better head control, you can begin to introduce some of the toys suggested above. At that stage, you’ll want to place the toys just out of reach of your baby to encourage them to reach and grasp. You’ll want to sit nearby to keep an eye on Baby’s play and cheer them along.