The Importance of Tummy Time

Tummy time- are we doing it enough, are we encouraging parents and educating them on why it’s important? 

As a feeding therapist, we may be one of the first to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of tummy time and what that can look like. 

It doesn’t have to be scary, baby doesn’t have to stay on their tummy for an indefinite amount of time, it can be broken up into short segments of time throughout the day. The more they do it- the easier it gets and the more they like it! 

So what is tummy time?

It’s placing a baby on their tummy, when they are awake, to play and explore their environment under supervision

It doesn’t have to be long periods of time on the tummy, it may be 5 minutes while mom is playing with baby and then they are done. Totally fine when you are just beginning, with the goal of building up the amount of time the baby is willing to lay on their belly on the floor. 

Tummy time can also be done on a parents or caregivers chest from an early age. Encourage play with toys, rattles, age appropriate teethers while the baby is in tummy time. Keeping the baby engaged during tummy time is key and can be a game changer for how they respond to it!
In an age of babies spending TONS of time in containers (car seats, swings, bouncers, etc.) tummy time has never been more important to help facilitate the development of many crucial early skills.

There are so many benefits to tummy time including:

  • support for overall development, including oral motor skills
  • it aids global physical, mental, and visual development
  • builds neck and shoulder muscles and improve a newborn’s head control
  • lays the foundation for other skills such as rolling, sitting, and crawling
  • helps baby gain awareness of how to move in space
  • aids in prevention of plagiocephaly (flattening of the head)
  • strengthens the neck which provides jaw support necessary for strong oral motor skills or nursing, eating, and vocalizing
  • aids in building fine motor skills as baby is pushing up with their hands while in tummy time

Many times during or after a session of tummy time a parent will report that they see their baby’s tongue moving more, in new directions, and with a greater range of motion.

Any time we can facilitate and educate on the importance of tummy time, we should as it will help facilitate reaching a baby’s feeding goals by aiding development in other related areas.