Tummy time was a bit of a challenge with our kids and it’s why we designed the Heads Up tummy time sensory mat.
The main problem was putting our babies down for any length of time just got them upset.
The other problem, especially once we had more kids, was making the time and having a space to put them down in amongst everything else going on.
So a dedicated space for babies to do tummy time with a play mat that engaged them on their front for longer felt like a must have. And it had a remarkable impact on our youngest baby.
What people want to know though is how a tummy time water play mat works and how to use it effectively to support your baby through their development milestones.
Tummy time milestones
First you need to understand what a baby’s physical development milestones are.
Helping your kids to develop physically with the necessary gross and fine motor skills to go further and discover more is an important foundation for all sorts of other developmental areas – language and communication, cognitive understand and social and emotional skills. The more they are able to do physically, the more opportunities they’ll have to discover new things the more they’ll encounter to expand their understanding of people and the world around them.
This is ultimately why tummy time matters. There’s an argument that all babies will get there in the end – which is very true. But with 90% of you baby’s brain development taking place in their first 1000 days, there’s a window of time to maximise and that means making sure they build the strength and balance they need physically to start exploring the world for themselves.
When can an infant start using a playmat
Different play mats have different purposes. Some are just spaces to put your baby down on their back or front and you can use from birth. If you’re looking for ways to prop your baby up to do tummy time however, use a mat after a few months once they’ve built up some initial stamina and a slight ability to raise their neck and head of a surface.
When your baby is less than 3 months, there are a range of activities you can do to support them on their front and encourage them to lift up their head. Using a baby carrier, resting them on your chest or just holding them over your shoulder can be a great aide to initially strengthening their neck muscles.
Our recommendation is to use a tummy time play mat when your baby reaches 3 months old. At 3 months your baby can properly engage with black and white visual cues and have enough strength to support themselves for short amounts of time – enough to be able to get the most out of a play mat.
When will your baby enjoy a water tummy time mat
At 3 to 4 months your baby will be able to support more of their body weight on their arms. This can help them lift their head a little higher and engage more with the floating shapes in a water tummy time mat.
At 4 months your baby should also have more control over their neck muscles and at this age, a sensory water play mat like Heads Up will help distract and engage your baby to extend the amount of time they are happy to spend on their front.
Expert advice suggests that by 4 months your baby should be spending 60 to 90 minutes on their tummy (not all at once) over the course of a day.
That can be quite hard to achieve without giving your baby the right support and keeping them entertained enough to stay on their tummy for long enough. If they get pretty distraught after a minute for example, you might find your having to put them down on their front 60 times a day to help them get the time in on their front. Not an easy feat!
A water tummy time mat is therefore perfect once your baby reaches this age. When they are looking for more distraction and entertainment the contrasting black and white patter and floating shapes are ideal for keeping your baby engaged for longer and making it easier to help them build up the strength and stamina to start moving about on their front.
How to use a water tummy time play mat
There’s two parts to how to use a water filled tummy time play mat.
The second part is how to get the most out of your water tummy time play mat once you’ve put your baby on it. The best thing is to give your baby some space to discover, but also be on hand to support if needed and add some toys and visual aides to help encourage them to turn and reach for things as they spend longer on their tummy.
The aim is to have your baby abandon the mat altogether once they learn to roll and crawl so there’s some ways to encourage that while they’re spending time on the mat.