The importance of floor play & how to make it interesting
Hi Mums & Dads!
If you’ve got a newborn baby in your life, then chances are that you’ve heard the terms “tummy time” or “floor play”.
Between feeding, changing nappies, and sleep cycles (or lack thereof!), floor play can sometimes be put on the backburner, especially if you’ve got a fussy baby.
But it doesn’t need to be this way! Read on for all the information you need to help make floor play a fun and engaging way for the whole family to bond with baby.
Why is floor play important?
Floor play is an important part of normal infant development – it helps to strengthen your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles, and is the first step in developing movement skills such as rolling and crawling.
Floor play also helps to prevent or reduce flat spots on the back or sides of baby’s head (known as plagiocephaly) – as baby lifts their head and engages the muscles at the back of the neck, these muscles gently pull on the the back of the skull where they attach, helping to round out the shape of the skull – how incredible is that?!
When should I start doing tummy time?
You can actually start doing tummy time when your baby is a newborn – in the first 2-3 weeks of baby’s life you should provide tummy time on a parent’s chest (skin to skin is a great bonding experience for mums, dads, and babies!)
There are several other positions you can use in the first few weeks to encourage neck strength whilst keeping baby close to you to help them feel safe & secure:
- Tiger in tree pose (carry baby face down with your arm under their belly)
- Carry baby upright against your shoulder or against your chest in a carrier
- Rest your baby face down across your lap
- Rest baby on your tummy while you lay down so they can look up at your face
After these first few weeks, you should start introducing floor play on a blanket or mat placed on the floor.
How much floor play should my baby be doing?
Below is a rough guideline based on your baby’s age, as per the TummyTimeTM Method recommendations. The amount of time for floor play is cumulative across the course of the day, and is done during baby’s awake periods.
- Newborns to 2 months old: Minimum of 30 minutes per day
- 2 to 4 months old: Minimum of 45-90 minutes per day
- 4-6 months old: Minimum of 1-2 hours per day
- 6-8 months old: Majority of waking hours will be spent in tummy time or sitting/learning to sit
How can I make floor play fun for my baby?
- Get involved! Lay down on the floor with your baby and engage with them by calling to them, making funny noises, or pulling faces.
- Use a mirror (or selfie mode on your phone) for baby to look at themselves.
- Create a book wall for baby to look at – prop several books up against a wall or couch to encourage them to lift their heads and look around.
- Hold baby on top of a yoga ball and gently roll them back and forth for a fun “flying” experience that counts as tummy time!
- Place several toys or activities on the floor with baby to keep them entertained (we love these sensory water play mats which, like all good things in life, are available at Kmart: Sensory Water Play Mat | Kmart ).
Why does my baby hate floor play?
Your baby may dislike laying on their tummy due to a combination of reasons. Below are some of the common reasons why a baby may dislike floor play, and ways that you might be able to help them to enjoy floor play:
REASON: Young babies don’t have good head and neck control yet, and holding their heads up is hard work.
SOLUTION: Offer alternative tummy time on your chest or tummy, or you can use a small rolled towel or wedge under their arms and chest for added support. If your baby gets upset within 1-2 minutes of tummy time, pick them up and give them a cuddle to reassure them, then try again later on.
REASON: They feel alone/they want you close
SOLUTION: Reassure your baby and show them that you are close by – get down on the floor with them to play, or place a comforting hand on their bottom or lower back
REASON: They get a bit of a shock at the quick change from being held to being placed on their tummy
SOLUTION: Start with baby on their back, and slowly roll them toward one side, using a toy or yourself to entice them. Check out https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_zUu8D-GW/ for a video demonstration on how to get baby into tummy time as calmly as possible
REASON: They are experiencing stomach discomfort due to reflux
SOLUTION: Trial different times of day to do tummy time – after a sleep and before the hunger pangs set in is ideal (but not always easy to achieve!). If your baby has reflux, you may find that waiting around 30 minutes after a feed allows them to do tummy time more comfortably.
REASON: Baby has a torticollis or other muscle strain from a difficult birth
SOLUTION: Use alternative tummy time positions such as over your lap or on a yoga ball, and applying gentle massage to the tight muscles (under the guidance of your healthcare provider’s advice) may help baby to feel more comfortable with floor play.
Ultimately, the key to tummy time and floor play is to just keep trying! You will find that over time your baby’s tolerance for floor play will improve as they become stronger, and you will have experienced lots of lovely bonding moments in the meantime!
When to consider a one-on-one osteopathy consultation
Sometimes, some babies need a little bit of extra help and support. Some of the indicators that you may need a one-on-one consultation include:
- Baby fusses constantly during tummy time, or screams anytime you place them on their tummy or their back
- Baby struggles to turn their head side to side or only turns to one side
- Baby is arching their back consistently during tummy time
- Baby seems very stiff with movement
- Baby is not lifting their head consistently during tummy time from around 4 months of age
If you have any questions about your baby, please reach out to us via [email protected] or you can call us on 9717 1200 to speak with one of our friendly team members.
To book online with one of our paediatric trained osteopaths, click here: https://bodywell.au1.cliniko.com/bookings?business_id=4159&appointment_type_id=81552