As our first blog post, we have asked occupational therapist (and our biggest fan of Hyggi play mats), Ann Helene Baby-Steps to explain some of the benefits of tummy time with your child and give some inspiration for exercises you can try at home
I love floor time for babies, I do it because when our children lie on the play floor, their sensorimotor development is stimulated.
In the first months, the most important place for your baby to be is on you, either in your arms, on your stomach or similar. This is because your child is close to your nervous system and can use it to feel safe. It is no joke that the first three months of babies' lives are called the 4th trimester.
We start offering tummy time early
But even if they initially spend most of their time on your body, we already early on offer opportunities to lie on their stomachs, strengthen their necks and backs, and give our babies the opportunity to build up the muscle strength to lift your head yourself.
It is important that the surface we offer our children to lie on at the beginning is soft but firm. This is because the firm surface creates the best conditions for being able to stabilize oneself in the prone position.
The play floor from Hyggi offers the right combination of firmness and softness, which allows the child to safely and easily get started with his training. I would like to come up with a few good suggestions for lovely games you can make with your baby, which stimulate tummy time on the play floor.
3 good games on the play floor that make tummy time fun
A cozy little game that stimulates your baby's sense of balance, while you train your core, and your baby strengthens his neck and back. Straight your baby on your shins so your baby is looking at you. Then roll back and lie on your back, legs bent, so your baby is lying down and flying. Slowly start a movement from side to side.
Rattle with scrambled eggs
Help your baby to be motivated to look up by lying next to them on their stomach. Play small games with toys that rattle or have bright colors that motivate them to look up and forward. The very best at this stage are faces, but small fun toy figures are also recommended. It can be really hard to lie next to your child at first. But the more you lie next to your child, the more your child will be motivated to lie here and thus build strength in the neck and back.
Another great way to help your baby in tummy time is by using tools that lift them a little off the ground. Then they don't have to use their own strength to lift their head the first and heaviest part against gravity, but get help in that inclined position. I usually recommend a bubble donut or the big crocodile. But there is a sea of wedge tools that can be used. Just remember that when you tickle your baby, their whole body should be supported so they don't arch their back.
Play floors invite floor time
The best way to help your child through sensorimotor development is to offer them fun games on the play floor. The best thing your baby knows is when you are together. The time you spend on the play floor with your baby is the best time for your baby. In the beginning, it will be small pleasant moments where it is primarily the close contact that is the focus, but later playing with toys will be what stimulates your child to search further through his development.
The development comes quite naturally as humans have a built-in search for sensory stimuli. When we offer our children the right prerequisites, they will quietly and calmly search through their sensorimotor milestones at their own pace.
Find your balance by playing on your back
The balance on the back is essential to being able to learn to roll from back to belly, and it is important to be able to find one's feet. Because it is not only lying on the stomach that strengthens the child's sensorimotor development, it also happens to a large extent in the supine position. That's why we don't have to be so afraid to also offer our babies time on our backs.
When our babies lie on the play floor and are allowed to sense the world above them, they look around, they rock a little from side to side and they start to lift their legs up to grasp first the knees and then the feet. Then they strengthen their abdominal muscles. They strengthen their core and they get ready to roll. I love to offer lots of back-lying balance play, it can be under an activity stand, where the toys are placed to the sides, or it can be in a cozy game with sensory scarves.