The jnr.life playmat is an essential part of tummy time, providing a base for the development of little muscles and curious minds. We speak to mum and occupational therapist from Bloom Paediatric Therapy, Deanna Kochen for her expert advice on tummy time.
There is so much talk about tummy time! Why is it so important?
Tummy time is important for your baby's development as it helps build head, neck and upper body strength. It also helps to develop the skills they’ll need to crawl, roll over, sit up and stand. You can start tummy time soon after birth for just a couple of minutes a few times a day.
Kids don’t always love their tummy time. How do you suggest keeping it fun?
It is important to keep tummy time fun and engaging for little ones in order to keep them motivated. Remember to always be guided by your baby, if they aren’t happy or comfortable during tummy time you can try mix up what you’re doing or give them a break and come back to it at a later time.
To make tummy time more fun and engaging you can:
- Change their tummy time position:
- Tummy-to-Tummy/chest - Lie down on your jnr.life playmat and place baby on your chest or tummy, so you and baby are face-to-face and hold your baby firmly for safety.
- Lap - Place baby face down across your lap. A hand on baby’s bottom will help steady and calm them.
- Eye-Level - Get down to your baby's level to encourage eye contact. Babies loves to see your face! Sing songs and chat.
- Mix up where you do tummy time, take your jnr.life playmat outside.
- Place a book near to your babies face to look at. Remember that until baby’s eyesight fully develops, and they can see colour they prefer high-contrast black and white images.
- Babies love looking at themselves, so place a mirror near their face for them to look into.
- Place safe toys near your baby, moving them from side to side to encourage your baby to move their head, focus their eyes and stay interested.
You might begin with one to two minutes a few times a day and over time, you can gradually build up to 10-15 minutes, several times a day.
What home items help encourage tummy time?
As your baby gains more control of their head and arms you can start to get more creative with tummy time activities that supports your baby’s strength, visual tracking, grasp and motivation for rolling and crawling. There are lots of items lying around the house that you can utilise and get creative with! Think things that are colourful, shiny, reflective and that make a gentle noise.
- Family photos lying around the house that you can put in front of your babies.
- DIY sensory bottles using a plastic bottle that you can fill and then seal tightly. You can fill them with anything colourful or that will make noise that you can get your hands on at home, for example water and glitter, leaves, sequins, rice or pasta.
- Wrapping paper, foil or crinkling baking paper as these make great sounds, for hands or when lying on top.
- Mess free painting – using a zip lock bag, place a piece of paper in and squirt a bit of paint on the paper and seal closed. Let your little one squish away!
As always, use your judgment and never leave your baby unattended when exploring or playing. Tummy time together promotes sharing, communicating and bonding.
And what are some must have items that aren’t necessarily lying around the house?
- Soft, durable and easy to clean play mat like the jnr.life
- A baby-safe mirror that can stand upright
- Soft toys, rattles, cloth books
- Wooden play gym/mobile that you can hang toys and objects off for your baby to look at, reach for, explore and grasp
Tell us about the importance of open-ended play in a child’s development?
Play in general is central to your child’s learning and development. Play helps your child:
- build their confidence
- feel loved and safe
- develop physical skills
- develop social skills, language and communication
Open-ended play allows children to problem solve and to follow their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their mind takes them. It promotes independent play and helps to develop confidence and curiosity, patience and resilience and skills for everyday life both at school and beyond.
What’s your message to parents wanting to help assist their child in fostering physical development?
Firstly, take the pressure off as it’s easy as parents to get overwhelmed by all the toys and activities out there and what to do and not to do to in order to support your child’s development.
The most powerful way to support your child’s physical development and learning is through play. Our job as parents is to provide a nurturing, stimulating and caring environment with different opportunities and ways to play, develop and learn, and lots of chances to practise what they’re learning. Encourage indoor and outdoor play and allow your child to be curious, explore, make mistakes and get messy!
Remember to just have fun, follow your child’s lead, interests and developmental stage and try share moments where you can get down on the floor and play together!