When you first become a parent, there are hundreds of things you have to think about. Your baby is something new in your life, and most of the time you have no idea what you are doing. But it’s fine. You are not the first and definitely not the last new parent to feel this way.
Fortunately, there is a lot of information going around on this subject. There are hundreds, if not thousands of websites on how to succeed in being a new parent. But what I want to talk to you about is tummy time. Do you know what it is or how important it is for your baby’s development? Did you know that a tummy time mat can prevent deformities?
Why is tummy time so valuable?
I suppose you are aware of what SIDS is. Sudden infant death syndrome is, to this day, a mystery to scientists all around the world. They have yet to discover the real cause of it. But there is a way to prevent it. Apparently putting your baby to sleep on his/her back will decrease the chance of SIDS by up to 50%. There is a whole campaign built around this idea. It’s called ‘Back to sleep, ’ and it advises parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs so they would avoid SIDS. It has been working very well so far. SIDS cases suffered a decrease. However, there is another thing parents should worry about.
If your baby spends too much time on his back, there are chances that he will develop head shape deformities. A baby’s skull is not yet fully formed. It is not even glued together, so to speak. This is why at an early age a baby’s head is still mouldable. It’s safe to say that if your child spends too much time on one side, his head will be slightly deformed on that particular side.
Here is where tummy time intervenes. Putting your baby on his belly regularly, while he is awake and under careful supervision, will be extremely beneficial to his development as a whole. It will not affect only the shape of his head. That is why it is crucial that you invest in the best tummy time mats you can find.
The benefits of tummy time mats
As I said before, tummy time mats do not affect only the baby’s head shape. It is also beneficial for the child’s overall development. You should not be concerned only by the baby’s head but about his entire body. So here are a few advantages to using a tummy time mat.
- Your child will no longer develop positional plagiocephaly. This is a condition in which your baby develops a flat spot on the back of his head from staying on his back for too long. Also, tummy time is ideal for infants who suffer from a condition called torticollis. It is a condition in which the head tilts unnaturally because the muscles of the neck are stiff and tight.
- Tummy time will strengthen the baby’s head, shoulders, and neck muscles. This will promote better motor skills in the future. Being in a developmental stage, your child needs to start moving. It’s the only way he will be able to develop his muscles. It’s the same as adults. A grown-up who does not exercise will be a lot stiffer than one who does.
- Research suggests that babies who spend tummy time will crawl earlier than the ones who don’t. And the more time they spend on their tummies, the more rapidly they will learn how to crawl, roll over, sit up without support, or even go on all fours. It’s great exercise.
- It can be a fantastic bonding time between the baby and the parents. You cannot leave your child unsupervised while on his tummy. You may think that your infant does not understand much, which is true, but he can sense quality time spent with his makers.
Get down on his level and talk, sing, and laugh. Your baby will see and hear you, which will strengthen the bond between you. You can use toys in bright colors to better his perception or anything that will engage him. You can improve his brain skills as well as his motor skills.
How to use a tummy time mat?
You can imagine that using a tummy time mat is not very difficult to comprehend. The secret is to supervise your baby because he can suffocate. If he is not able to properly move his head, he will be face down, which is dangerous.
You can start as early as 2 weeks. Don’t keep the child too much, though. 30 seconds is enough for starters. By 2 months, you can increase the period of time to 3 – 5 minutes. After the baby grows some more, you can spend up to 15 minutes with him on his tummy. You will see that his moves are more independent than before. You should continue doing tummy time until the baby is about 6 months old. After that, he or she will be willing to move and play more.
Don’t imagine that your baby will like sitting on his tummy. Not at first, at least. Tummy time is like a workout for him. Do you like first-time workouts? Nobody does. Neither does your baby. He will fuss a lot and cry, but after a while, he will get the hang of it. And if you play with him, the baby will associate tummy time with happy time.
What are the best tummy time mats for infants?
The offer is huge when it comes to tummy time mats. They may all be useful, but there is a difference in quality that cannot be overlooked. After all, you don’t want a plain mat. Otherwise. You could have placed a blanket on the floor, add some toys, and call it a tummy time mat. You should go for something engaging for your child, something that will challenge his brain, like dazzling colors and all sorts of toys.
Here are three of the tummy mats I believe are the most ideal for your baby’s training sessions.
Infantino Peek and Play Tummy Time Activity Mat
If you want to make tummy time fun for your child, a sensory-engaging mat is all you need. The Infantino mat provides precisely that. It has stimulating patterns and colors which will capture the attention of your baby. Maybe not when he is a month old, but in a few months, he will happily look at the monkey on the mat.
The tummy time mat also provides a teether monkey and an elephant. They are positioned in such a way that your baby will want to grab them. It’s not exactly easy, so the action of your baby stretching to reach the toys is extremely beneficial for his or her muscles.
I suppose that you read how mirrors can stimulate a baby’s child and he can learn how to imitate gestures by looking at them. Well, the manufacturer thought of that and added a large, completely removable mirror for when your infant can actually comprehend its use. I believe that it’s a small, but great feature.
You know how at first your child will need some support to keep his shoulders and head above the ground. This is why this mat comes with a padded bolster that offers great assistance. You will not need it for very long, but in the early months, it will come in handy.
The mat is machine washable and does not lose its colors. However, the one flaw is that the bolster is not stable. The baby will move a lot and so will the little pillow. You will have to readjust it frequently. Other than that, the Infantino Peek and Play tummy time mat is very good for its price range.
Tiny Love Tummy Time Under The Sea Playmat
I absolutely love the theme of this mat. It’s under the sea and has fishies on it and other sea creatures. Your baby is going to adore this after he gets used to the tummy time. His curiosity will challenge his brain to explore all the colors and patterns.
The mat also comes with a leaf teether, a rattle, and a mirror. The infant will automatically become curious like all children do. Not to mention all the colorful characters that surround him will probably make him laugh. Even the bolster is in the shape of a crab. It even has eyes. I bet your baby is going to have a lot of fun with those.
The mat is completely machine washable, and you don’t have to worry that the colors will ever fade. If you follow the washing instructions, the mat should last long enough for your child to enjoy it until he doesn’t need it anymore.
One issue that some people may construe as a fault is that the fabric that covers the cushioning is too thin. Babies tend to drool a lot so the mat will become soaked in a relatively short period of time. Infants should be supervised anyway when they have their tummy time so you will be able to take notice of that pretty quickly. You can place a small towel under the baby’s face to fix the issue.
Bright Starts Prop Mat, Splashin’ Safari
This mat is also very attractive. Not only that it comes at a small price, but the quality is very good. It has all kinds of bright colors and fun characters that your baby will absolutely love to watch and play with. Bright colors are exceptional for engaging the child’s brain functions. It’s never too early to start improving your baby’s development, physical and otherwise.
The Bright Starts mat comes with a leaf-shaped rattle toy. It makes funny sounds, so your baby will be drawn to it. At first, you will have to play with it, but after a few months, he or she will be able to hold it.
If you travel with your baby, you will have no difficulties in taking this mat with you. The bolster is removable so you will be able to roll the mat into a more compact state. It will fit in a handbag. That way you can provide a clean place for your child to lie down or have tummy time.
The mat also has 2 FunLinks that you can use to attach the baby’s favorite toys and a frog bead chaser. The padded bolster will provide support in the first few months. That is also washable.
One drawback of this mat is its tiny size. It’s okay for the very first months of life, but when the baby reaches 4 or 5 months, the mat will be too small. You will have to buy another or invest in a baby gym.
Although all three tummy time mats are excellent from all points of view, my personal favorite is the Tiny Love Tummy Time Under The Sea. The characters are funny, and the pillow crab will cause quite a few laughs for your baby. Not to mention that those hanging eyes will be some sort of main attraction for your child. They will most likely spend most of the time in the infant’s mouth (after he or she grows a little, of course.) Also, comparing the quality of the three mats, there is something about this one that makes it look more sturdy than the other two. When it comes to this sort of item, the more resilient, the better.
I hope that you have all the information you need now. Tummy time is crucial for a child’s proper development. There are a lot of things you can do for your baby to help him to develop as well as possible. Starting from an early age is a considerable advantage, which is why a baby is a constant investment. You can start by purchasing the best tummy time mat you can find.