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The infants that you care for will not always be sleeping! They will want to play and have social time too. The opportunity to play while on their tummy will allow the infant to strengthen their muscles all over their body and to get a good view of their world.
Beginning on his first day home from the hospital or in your family child care home or center, play and interact with the baby while they are awake and on the tummy 2 to 3 times each day for a short period of time (3-5 minutes), and increase the amount of time each day, they will eventually enjoy the experience of playing while laying on their tummy![i]
Remember that tummy time is always supervised, awake time. If an infant falls asleep during tummy time, gently place them back in the crib on their back.
Here are some things to try in order to make this interesting and developmentally appropriate for an infant:
- Place yourself or a toy just out of the infant’s reach during playtime to get the infant to reach for you or the toy.
- Place toys in a circle around the infant. Reaching to different points in the circle allows the infant to develop muscles for rolling, scooting on the tummy, and crawling.
- Lie on your back and place the infant on your chest. The infant will lift their head and use their arms to try to see your face.
- While being supervised by an adult, have a young child play with the infant during tummy time. Young children can get down on the floor easily. They generally have energy for playing with infants, really enjoy their role as “big kid,” and are likely to have fun themselves.
[i] Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play (Copyright © 2008 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 08/2016)
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