Young babies need to become tired during the day in order to sleep well once the sun sets—and that means getting exercise! These smart stretches and moves can be done during the day in order to help your baby fall asleep when the sun goes down. Take tummy time up a notch with these activities suggested by Anne Zachry, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and author of Retro Baby.
1. Strengthen Stomach Muscles.
Place your baby on her back facing you, either on your lap or on a blanket. While supporting her shoulders and head with your hands, slowly raise her up toward you. Once she can keep her head up on her own, you can hold her hands to pull her into an upright position.
2. Boost Head Control.
Lay your baby on his stomach in your lap. Then slowly move your legs up and down and side to side. The slight shift offers him a healthy challenge to keep his head up.
3. Help Her Use Her Hands.
Put your baby on her side with her legs slightly bent forward at the hips. (You may need to tuck a rolled-up blanket behind her back to help her stay in place.) This position will encourage her to bring her hands together to look at them, suck on them, or play with them.
4. Stretch His Arms.
Get your little one to reach his arms out by setting small toys on a blanket just out of his reach. You can also lay him in various positions, such as on his side, back, or tummy, to encourage a wider range of motion.