Potty Training the Toddler – Potty Charts, Rewards & Tips

How we potty trained: Psychology, reward charts, practice!

So we started potty training some time ago, but then lost momentum

The toddler (2.5 years as I write this) is pretty good at going to the potty now at home and if he is not wearing a nappy or trousers. But, if he has nappy and clothes on then he will just continue to use the nappy, not say when he needs the potty, and not use the potty. So I needed to get back on track with the training:

 

Potty training – Stage 2

The toddler is acquainted with the potty now so that’s some of the hard work done. I decided to make a chart where he can see his gains and successes and include rewards and positive reinforcement.

 

The psychology behind it

  • Graded exposure – to the potty (practice) – Child gets used to using the potty and increased skill and confidence with experience working their way up to a final goal (e.g. using potty or big toilet and no longer wearing nappy)
  • Behavioural psychology – rewards and reinforcement
What does this mean? Graded exposure relates to gradually in a step by step manner getting used to something starting with one small step and building on this with bigger steps. You might make an exposure hierarchy which is a ladder of experiences starting with a step that causes only a small amount of change/disruption that would be more manageable, and an experience at the top that would be very difficult to achieve in the first instance (but more manageable after you’ve achieved all the steps leading up to it). Once a step has been mastered any concern or upset about the following step tends to reduce because we learn that it “was ok”, “not as bad as we thought”, we have the experience from the previous step, and so on.
  • Example of steps with increasing difficulty: sitting on potty with clothes on as a first step. Doing a wee on the potty. Doing a number 2 on potty. Not wearing a nappy and using the potty. Using the potty at night time, using the “big toilet”… etc etc

 

Rewards and Reinforcement:
Reinforcement is where behaviour increases. Positive reinforcement is where a behaviour increases because it’s followed by a positive/motivating consequence such as praise or a toy. Negative reinforcement is where behaviour increases because a negative consequence is removed, maybe using the potty prevents wet and soiled clothes, change of nappy, change of clothes (if they don’t like this).

 

The Potty Chart

How we made our potty chart - potty training, how to & psychology

How we made the chart

The potty chart I made is a very lose hierarchy I suppose because I included a point where we ditch the nappy and wear pants (there’s a little photo of a pair of pants at this stage), in the hope that the toddler will be able to go straight to the potty when needed.
The general look is supposed to be a train track which goes down to a station at the end (see the photo of the station at the bottom of the chart which attaches to the toddler’s train track and he can actually play with it). There are trains (rewards) to collect along the way. I spaced these out so that the target behaviour (using the potty) is continually reinforced and rewarded, see more below:

 

How we potty trained: Our big toy reward! Psychology, reward charts, practice!

The “big reward”

  • I spaced the rewards out to keep the toddler motivated – there are several and they start soon on in the process.
  • There is a “big reward” at the end – a train station, which he really wants
  • We talk about the rewards which are trains from Thomas the Tank Engine in the hope that this maintains his attention and reminds him of the aims and potty frequently
  • I ask him frequently if he needs to use the potty and of the reward process – Use potty – Get sticker – get train after so many stickers
  • I keep the potty chart close to the potty so he can see his progress and to act as a reminder
  • The theme of trains and train track is meaningful to him and something he values. It taps into his personal interests.

 

How we’re using the Potty Chart

How we potty trained: Choosing stickers for our reward chart.

Choosing stickers for the reward chart

  • Use potty and get a sticker
  • Toddler picks a sticker and puts it on the chart himself (control, autonomy, increasing interest, ownership etc)
  • Stickers go down the train track towards a reward (toy).
  • Get enough stickers and he gets a toy.
  • Keep going down the track to the BIG reward at the end – a train station

 

Outcomes – what happened…

I wrote the above a few months ago now. We successfully navigated around and down the train track to the station at the end! The focused reward chart was a success. I also liked the idea of keeping the chart up in the living room where the toddler could see it, track his progress and act as a reminder of his success alongside the repetitive and reinforcing potty behaviour. He was very pleased with his station.

 

How we potty trained: Our big toy reward! Psychology, reward charts, practice!

Finally got his big reward! (station)

Wasn’t all plain sailing…

The area of the chart where it says “now wear your pants” didn’t happen – we started with the pants a bit later down the track. Why? Well we used them and we wet them a few times. I wondered if it was a bit too early and if they felt like wearing a nappy. Pants were a new concept for the toddler. So I waited a bit longer until the potty visiting behaviour was more familiar and routine and then we added the pants.
We had a few accidents, but I think this is normal.
But, finally, we are now “potty trained” inside the house for wee! (apart from at night time and long naps where we use a nappy still)

 

 

Next step – potty use OUTSIDE the house!…

(note how I’m breaking this all down into steps – this is also for my benefit! – but if you prefer to do it quicker or all in one go, then that’s a personal choice).

 

Developments and progress at 1 year old – baby’s 1st birthday

Typical baby development at 12 months old - psychological, physical, social. We are one year old, happy birthday baby!

Happy Birthday Baby! You’re now one. Time has gone so quickly!

 

So what has he been up to?
In the week or so before his first birthday he’s
  • Spoken his first word, taken his first steps (although the steps have not been repeated since then, grrr)
  • Appears to understand more words and basic instruction, e.g. can you put this in the box (or maybe it’s just fluke each time). Can say “up”, kind of say “moo”, knows the cow says moo, knows the chicken says “bukkarr” and can say his version of a chicken sound, might have said “book” but i’m not 100% sure, say dada, has said “hi” a few times.
  • We have two new teeth coming through – he has 8 already so this will make 10.
  • He can nod his head, wave hello and bye bye and wave this if you ask him to say bye/hello
  • He can play ball by rolling it to me (though not completely accurately)
  • His concentration during reading has improved and he can sit most of the way through a baby book.
  • He eats a lot of finger food and cut up “regular” food, such as pasta, sandwhiches, cheese, basically meals and food that I feel to the toddler (nearly 2.75 years old) but with extra attention to salt content. However, saying that, now that he is one he could have a little more salt in his diet. The NHS write:
The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and children is:
  • up to 12 months – less than 1g of salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium)
  • 1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (0.8g sodium)

What are general developments and milestones at 12 months?

You can find a useful birth to five development timeline here, from the NHS. According to this timeline:
  • 10-18 months, baby usually walks alone
  • by 12 months, responds to their own name
  • 12-18 months, takes an interest in words

 

There is also useful information on development across a range of areas here from the CDC, including social/emotional, language/communication, cognitive and physical developments:
  • Plays games such as peek a boo, can hand you a book if they want a story, repeats sounds to get attention
  • responds to simple verbal requests and follow simple directions e.g. pick up the (item)
  • can bang two things together
  • moves into a sitting position without assistance, cruises/pulls to stand, may take a few steps, may stand alone

 

For further reading on development in young children, have a look at this article “Children under three years: the time of their lives” (M. Dowling), a free resource from the British Association for Early Childhood Education (more resources found here). It discusses areas of progress, important social and attachment related elements, cognitive and emotional development and more.

 

First words, first steps and (nearly) first birthday baby

Baby's first word and steps, nearly 12 months old. Baby-Brain.co.uk. Psychology, children, parenthood

I can talk and walk now! (nearly)

Ever noticed your baby/child becomes a little more grumpy, more difficult to settle, get to sleep, more crying etc just before a big developmental change? A week or so ago the baby (nearly 12 months old) needed a lot of help getting to sleep. He cried and cried if I dared put him down in his cot. I had to hold him, rock him, sit down next to the cot and pat his back until he fell asleep. He didn’t want to nap and was quite grumpy.
Big changes were afoot
So a few days ago we think he said his first word. He appeared to use it in context and appropriately. His first word was…
“Up”
Then today, he took his first steps! Haven’t been able to get him to re-create this however. The toddler I remember was quite uncertain around walking at first, but after a few tries his walking really sped on. So here’s to crazy baby and toddler running up and down the corridors!

Baby says Moo

Baby says moo: what my 11.5 month old can say and do (nodding)

“moo”

Baby says moo
The “baby” can now say moo. I’m not sure why it’s important or that I think it’s significant that a 11.5 month old can say “moo” when you ask “what sound does the cow make?”, but there we go. I also caught him nodding today like he was actually trying to say yes. I experimented with and observed what he was nodding in response to (when I say nod, he was kind of nodding his head but quite jerkily and if he was sitting down he would kind of bob his whole upper half up and down). He was apparently actually nodding to communicate yes. Woo, infant communication has been somewhat shaped and constructed in a way that adult humans can understand!!
Now on to other important animal sounds…

First “day” back at work after maternity!

Mum's 1st "day" back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

There is light

So today I was back at work. I’m only doing a certain number of days this month and re-entering slowly.

It was all going so well. I got the lovely crowded tube in the morning; it felt great to get back into the old swing of things despite the mass of people and heat on the tube. Stopped off for a coffee, stopped to look at the shops, the trees, the people, acknowledged the absence of small children, screams, whines, sounds, pushing of a buggy like it’s an extra appendage.
Braving the tube: Mum's 1st "day" back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

Busy tube, morning commute

Walked into the office. People rubbing their eyes in disbelief – “you’re back?!” – well, not quite like that, they were a bit surprised to see me though (despite various emails about when I was coming back). Chatting. Catching up. Enjoying the conversation.
Logging onto the computers – checking and deleting masses of emails that are now out of date and irrelevant. Setting up my diary. Doing all those fiddly things that don’t really seem that important but need to be done and will save you time later.
Planning and longing for my lunch – thinking about going somewhere with comfortable seats and eating a nice tasty lunch, without distraction, demands or uncertainty about whether a child will wake up from their nap, start to get tired and grumpy, etc.
Re-mapping my brain – reading – thinking – trying to connect back up the links, memories, knowledge in my mind where these had somewhat decayed or stagnated over the maternity leave.
How NOT to have a 1st day back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

Stickers from the hospital

Anyway, It so happened that I’d set up a doctor’s appointment for the toddler because he’d come down with a puffy and red eye. This had started the evening before but looked worse the next morning (my 1st day back). The childcare provider was going to take him to the appointment. I thought everything would be fine as he’s had some redness and problems with his eyes before and i’ve taken him to the doctors (and an eye test). But no, THIS TIME, this time is different. The GP talks to me on the phone. They say that the toddler needs to go to A&E (emergency room) to be checked by the paediatric specialist because she does not want to take any risks with his eye. She said it was more precautionary. So I pack up. Tell my colleagues this news. Feel like it looks like an excuse and maybe i’m not able to leave the kids or something. Rush back to the tube grabbing a sad egg mayonnaise sandwich on the way. Eat sandwich on tube.
Get home, take child out to the hospital (which takes ages to get to). Wait for nurse triage. Wait for doctor. Wait for antibiotic medication and eye drops. Make our way home.
My first day back at work! Wheeee..eee.eee
(psychotherapists might have a field day about this – the attachment – the separation – me rushing back to give pure physical care and some kind of teleological act of caregiving e.g. giving medication, eye drops, sigh)

 

Psychology Resources & Links – Parenting, Child, Mental health & Wellbeing

Psychology related worksheets, resources, psychoeducation – and links to other sites that provide valuable resources along these lines including self help resources and information.

 

Links to external resources:

Psychology Tools(http://psychology.tools/)

  • Provides free resources for therapists, including worksheets to download, psychological models, translated resources, and welcomes resource contributions from everyone. Psychology Tools was set up by a clinical psychologist in 2008 “as a way to develop and share materials useful to psychological therapists”. I have made use of this website for several years.

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Get Self Help – (http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/)

  • “Self Help & Therapist Resources”. A good resource for psychological education sheets, worksheets, therapy and self help related materials. Provides information for self help, therapists, trainees, mental health professionals. I have been using this site for helpful worksheets and inspiration for, hmm probably about 5 years!

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NHS self help leaflets

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Centre for Clinical Interventions

  • Has a number of resources for mental health practitioners including therapist manuals, brief information sheets and worksheets covering a range of topics including depression, bipolar disorder, social anxiety, unhelpful thinking styles, self-esteem, eating disorders, generalized anxiety and mindfulness, panic, sleep, procrastination, pperfectionism
  • Sheets include resources such as thought diaries, goals records, core beliefs worksheets, to name a few
  • There are also downloadable packs for “consumers
  • Downloads are well and neatly presented, illustrated, and contain many examples to explain and illustrate the points they present
  • Please read their full disclaimer if you are interested, for example they write that the information provided in the information packages is intended for information purposes only…. “information packages are not meant to treat depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness….the information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional…”[more]

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Mind – for better mental health – charity – information and support

  • Information on types of mental health problems, treatments, helping others, legal rights, tips for everyday living guides to support and services, and helplines
  • Helpful resource on A-Z mental health

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The Compassionate Mind Foundation

  • Set up in 2006 the Foundation aims to promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion”

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The British Psychological Society – Careers Resources

  • Information about careers, education and training in psychology from the BPS

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General Links

Links to a range of pregnancy/parenting/baby/child related information

(I am not affiliated with any of these sites / resources; they are just some options that I’ve come across that you might find relevant)

 

General pregnancy and baby guides

  • A general pregnancy and baby guide from the NHS website –  I looked up many issues and queries during my pregnancy and first few months of LL’s life here.  Pages include short videos on many topics.
  • Pregnancy related questions – From the NHS website. covers issues including food and drink during pregnancy, pre-conception, travel during pregnancy, labour, and more.

 

Information for parents

  • The Start 4 Life website – There is a range of information on the Start 4 Life website including on breastfeeding, introducing solids, and sections relevant to Mums, Dads, Babies and Professionals. You can also sign up for weekly emails

 

Feeding

 

Motor skills and Physical Development

  • Tummy Time Tips – information on what tummy time is, why do it, tips and a helpful video outlining these points. The site says it is “Solely committed to providing the most up-to-date information about the importance of tummy time”, written by a paediatric occupational therapist.

 

General activities, play and learning ideas/tips

There are so many sites and resources out there that detail creative and helpful play and activity ideas. These are just a few that i’ve come across and have probably pinned ideas to the Baby Brain Pinterest board. I have no personal or professional connection to any of the boards or authors, I just liked some of their activities and ideas.

  • The Imagination Tree – a wide range of creative play and learning activities for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school age
  • Where imagination grows – range of art, craft, toddler and preschoolers activities including playing with light
  • Laughing kids learn – range of sensory play, art&craft, numeracy, science and recipe examples including a zipper board, busy bags, tugging box, with lovely bright and easy to follow pictures
  • Adventures at home with mum – a variety of play and DIY activity ideas including sensory boxes and home made toys, with pictures to illustrate the idea and how baby responds, and nice clear lists of “baby learning concepts” included for the activity such as helps with fine motor skills, developing hand eye coordination, etc.
  • No Time for Flash Cards – site that covers a range of early education and creative play ideas, activities and crafts for kids, including sensory activities, fine and gross motor skills, pretend play, books and reading. You can also helpfully search for activities by age, from infant to school age

Disclaimer: baby-brain.co.uk can not take responsibility for any of the content or advice supplied on any linked to external websites. Baby-brain.co.uk is not affiliated with any of these sites and only links to them as a references source that you may chose to look at for further information if you deem necessary. Baby-brain.co.uk accepts no liability for any consequences arising from the use of any resources made available on this website. Materials referred to and supplied here are intended to be read as interest pieces only, and not as direct advice or in place of guidance and advice from a qualified health care professional who you have consulted with. If you have any questions / concerns / issues regarding your child’s development / well-being, or yours or anyone’s mental health and well-being, please contact your GP, Health Visitor, Paediatrician, Midwife, or other relevant health care professional. Adult supervision is required for any activity featured on this blog. Please decide based on each individual activity if it is appropriate for you and your own child.

Did the baby just sleep through the night?

Did the baby just sleep through the night?

Baby is 8 months 3 weeks. I think he “slept through the night” last night. From about 11:30pm until 6:30am. His older brother, “the toddler”, previously known as “little lovely” didn’t sleep through the night until he was 9 months old, and then only for about a week before he went through a teething episode and some sickness so the sleeping stopped. So, I was expecting to wait until at least 9 months until we all got to sleep again. Hoping this is it and it wasn’t just a one off, or I accidently slept through the usual 3am wails and cries on the baby monitor. Ahhhh. Potential quality of life (QOL) upgrade mayhaps?!

Baby Water Sensory Play Activity

If you want to try this at home be more careful than me!

Dirtand boogers.com water play idea. Baby Water Sensory Play: baby-brain.co.uk, psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Dirtandboogers.com water play idea

What am I talking about? Well I tried to emulate this Baby Water Play idea (piccie to your right ) from a site called “Dirt and Boogers” (written by a “play therapist turned stay at home mom”; see whole article here with some nice pictures of baby playing with the water tray. There is also a range of play ideas from baby to preschool age on the site). This looked like a great way to introduce the Little Lovely (LL) to some sensory play of a different nature as we have never used water during play other than bath time I suppose, but I haven’t introduced any bath toys yet. I didn’t read the instructions properly and I think this activity is for babies who are not sitting yet, or at least is to be done in a non-sitting position.
Anyway, I set up a baking tray with some toys including linky loops, a sippy cup top and rattle (basically things that would glide about on the water), added water and put a plastic sheet under the tray so as not to spill water everywhere, as demonstrated in the picture below.

Water Sensory Play idea with baby | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

I sat LL down in front of it (aged 6.5 months) and IMMEDIATELY… WOOSH… the first thing he did was grab the bottom of the tray and tipped it up. The water all spilled out right across the plastic and on to the rug. Oh well, it’s only water.
So this might have been a good sensory experience activity but maybe do as Dirt and Boogers and put baby on their tummy (baby in the original article is 6 months – so similar to LL). Although, I’m not sure if LL wouldn’t have tipped the tray up anyway even if he was on his front.
Maybe I’ll repeat this at some point and see what LL does next time. And maybe I’ll add some balls. I’ve found another water sensory play idea here from Learn with Play at Home (written by a teacher and mother of 2) and they suggest using a high chair tray, which actually might have been a better idea for LL so he couldn’t tip it up, or maybe I could find a heavier or larger water receptacle that he couldn’t tip over. Anyway, try it at home, add some interesting toys/objects to the water that baby can push around and experience the feel and sound of the water. Oh, and at least LL had fun playing with the metal tray, tipping it up and bashing on it with some of his other sensory play objects after his water emptying handiwork was done. He was able experiment with making some nice sounds with the tray – so we got some sensory play after all, just of a different nature to what was planned! Here’s some pictures of him having fun (below).
Safety first! As always, always supervise activities and be careful with with water around your baby. Never leave baby unattended.

 

woosh Water Sensory Play idea with baby | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Woosh went the water! As he tipped up the tray

let's make stuff from baby-brain.co.uk - baby water sensory play idea - | Baby-Brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective & blog on motherhood

Playing with the now emptied of water tray

 

See more stuff the Little Lovely and I made and did together: ⇒back to Let’s Make Stuff!

 

Thank you for reading: Baby Water Sensory Play: baby-brain.co.uk, psychology resource, perspective & blog

The toddler’s visit to the optometrist: infant & child eye health

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?So the other day we went to the eye doctor

I was slightly concerned by one the toddler’s eyes (aged 2 years 4.5 months). He kept rubbing it a lot and sometimes one eye looked a bit different to the other. Hard to explain exactly what it was but probably a mild case of me being overly concerned. Anyway… eye tests for under 16 year olds are free on the NHS and I thought it would be good to assess and get a general idea of his eye health and visual development.

As it turned out, both of his eyes are fine. I was unsure about how he would react to the testing; at our last dentist appointment, for example, he refused to open his mouth, although this was over 6 months ago and he’s changed since. We talked about the eye doctor with him a few times in the days before we visited and explained what would happen and that we were just going to check his eyes, just like we check his ears (the term we use when we take his temperature) and to make sure his eyes were OK. Hopefully by likening the new experience to his previous and known experiences this would make the new optometrist experience feel less alien and a normal thing to do.

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?

We got a sticker!

Fortunately the optometrist was very friendly and the session was quite child orientated and we were able to get some good testing done. There were no problems or signs of infection. Next eye check in 1 year!

 

Here’s what the NHS has to say about children’s eye health and eye tests:

Children may not realise they have a vision problem, so without routine tests there is a risk that any problems could go undiagnosed …

…Eye problems are often much easier to treat if detected while a child’s vision is still developing (usually up to about seven or eight years of age).

When do children have their eyes tested?

  • Within 72 hours of birth 
  • Between six and eight weeks old
  • Around one year old or between two and two-and-a-half years old – as part of the child’s health review
  • Around four or five years old – some children may have an eye test when they start school

 

It’s also recommended that children have regular eye tests at least once every two years. These tests can be done at a high street opticians and are free for all children under 16 years old (and those under 19 years old in full-time education).

For further information on children’s eyes and eye health see this page here from the NHS

 

 

Tummy Time for baby – and why it’s important

Tummy Time for baby - Why it's important! Tips & information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time (TT) is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles, coordination skills and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It’s therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Since the Back To Sleep campaign (babies to sleep on their backs), babies were apparently getting less “tummy time” during the day, leading to some delays in reaching important developmental milestones such as crawling (according to this article from the BBC on the importance of Tummy Time for babies and their development). These children did catch up, however.
Some babies can really dislike tummy time, however. I found some tips on this site from a paediatric occupational therapist
– 7 tips for making tummy time a little less miserable, if TT needs some encouragement.
  • It writes about 7 steps to independent TT, starting each step a few times a day for a few minutes while progressing up the steps. It’s also a good idea not to do TT too soon after a meal otherwise there might be a bit of spit up.
  • The Little Lovely (LL) didn’t really mind TT, although in the first few months he could only tolerate a short amount of time on his tummy before making frustrated sounds. I think this was because he was working quite hard in trying to do mini push ups and so it was probably quite tiring for him.
There is a wealth of information out there on how to make tummy time fun and interesting for you both, how to assist baby with tummy time and what to do if baby does not like being on this tummy.
When I first started with LL we tried some assisted TT by rolling up a towel or blanket and putting this under his chest so that he could experience his chest being raised and pushed up from the floor, but without so much of the strain for him.
Tummy Time for baby - tips and information, from baby-brain.co.uk

Tummy Time

  • Make it a bonding experience – there are different games you can play while practising TT and baby doesn’t have to be on their own, tummy down on the floor. Try placing baby on your tummy, tummy to tummy so that you can both see each other when they lift their head. Or, lie on your back and put baby on his tummy on your legs.Lift up your legs, while holding baby securely, and pretend to be an aeroplane. If baby is tummy down on the floor, use toys to encourage them to reach, move, and lift their head. Or, talk or sing to your baby to encourage this. Always supervise TT with baby.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on TT, because i’m not, but here’s a website totally devoted to it – Tummy Time Tips (from paediatric occupational therapist that you can check out for more information. It includes information on the importance of TT, what it is, how to do it (tummy time tips), and a helpful video
Some further links regarding Tummy Time that I have found on my travels:
    • How to make tummy time more fun for your baby – some tips including “forget the floor”, “prop up”, “face to face” and “make it fun”, from a website where the authors are “moms and pediatric therapists”
    • Tummy Time Entertainment  from a site authored by “a certified art instructor and mother of two” – she writes about using an app activity fortummy practice(from Knoala), with pictures.
Tummy Time is important in that long road toward crawling and eventually walking. It involves baby working their muscles and coordination and learning to push up, sit up, roll over and other gross motor skills. It's therefore important to give babies time on their tummy.

Have a Tummy Fun Time

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