The Importance of Tummy Time

Do you ever wonder why Tummy Time is so important?

I mean, you probably don’t remember doing Tummy Time as a baby, if you even did it at all! And many of you didn’t, because many babies just slept on their tummies until 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched their back to sleep campaign.

Since then, there has been a large decrease in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS; but because babies are no longer spending enough time on their tummies, there has also been an increase in the need for pediatric physical therapy, developmental delays, flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly), and torticollis, which is when a baby’s neck becomes stiff or tight, causing their head to tilt to one side. So babies need this time on their bellies while they are awake to develop neck and core strength. **

Tummy Time is an important activity for your baby’s development and is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Because the AAP recommends that babies sleep on their backs for safety reasons, babies need enough supervised Tummy Time during the hours they are awake to strengthen head, neck, and upper body muscles. Tummy Time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing. Remember that all babies benefit from Tummy Time, including newborns.

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I’m a Physical Therapist Assistant and a Licensed Massage Therapist. I have never worked in school based PT with pediatrics, I only ever worked with adults or teenagers but I am currently considering a job offer. When I had an interview with the owner last week she said that since the SIDS scare and update with babies sleeping on their backs instead of their stomachs there is a huge increase in the need for pre school and kindergarten Physical Therapy. She said that babies aren’t getting enough tummy time and they are crawling later and less, sometimes not at all, and not developing their postural muscles. I came home and immediately did more tummy time obviously and since then looked at some recent studies (see article below) and there is a correlation. she told me wether they cry or not that they should be spending 1/2 the day on their stomach for proper strength and development. At least get then in a seated position and off their backs. This never use to be an issue because babies use to sleep on their bellies. The motto is back to sleep and stomach to play. Tummy time isn’t just time for playing. If your baby hates tummy time you can incorporate tummy time with snuggles, bath time, feeding (breast), dressing, diapering, and carrying.

If your baby is going from crib or bassinet to swing to car seat to bouncer to rock and play then that is a lot of back time. Another thing to look at is the shape of baby’s head. A lot of back time can cause a flat head inhibiting brain development. You want your baby’s head to develop symmetrically. So incorporating tummy time, sitting, and also changing the direction that your baby sleeps in his crib or bassinet can help that.

Other Ways To Help Prevent Flat Spots on Your Baby’s Head:

In addition to Tummy Time, parents and caregivers can try these other ways to help prevent flat spots from forming on the back of baby’s head:

Hold your baby upright when he or she is not sleeping. This is sometimes called “cuddle time.”

Limit the amount of time your baby spends in car seats, bouncers, swings, and carriers.

Change the direction your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next—for example, have your baby’s feet point toward one end of the crib one week, and then have the feet point toward the other end of the crib the next week. *

Here are some articles and helpful links:

https://www.moveforwardpt.com/asset.axd?id=8a0cb1b7-59cb-45da-872f-142b91f06750&t=634326859997970000

https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/consumers/Youth/Tummy-Time-tip-sheet.pdf

http://www.apta.org/Media/Releases/Consumer/2008/8/6/

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play!

Don’t get discouraged. Every bit of Tummy Time with your baby makes a difference. If you have done plenty of Tummy Time with baby, but are concerned they are not meeting their milestones, bring your concerns to baby’s pediatrician or healthcare provider.

* https://www1.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/Pages/tummytime.aspx

** https://pathways.org/blog/using-tummy-time-meet-milestones/

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Tummy Time

  1. Wowsers, it is definitely good to get this information out. My kids are teenagers now. My son was very quick to pick up walking, he skipped crawling, was ahead in height, weight and most other areas. My daughter wanted to stay a baby, I had to hide around a corner to see her walking, as she didn’t want to walk in front of me. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I had no idea they needed THAT much tummy time! I’ve been horrible about tummy time this go around because, well, it’s my 3rd baby and I have so much other crap to do during the day. She does love to sit up, though, so she at least has that going for her. Thanks for sharing this info!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I certainly feel supervised daytime tummy time is a best practice. And it is a good observation you had about babies spending so much time on their backs, in cribs, car seats, playpens and bouncers. So, daytime tummy time, in this way, the babies skeletal system, muscles and head can all form correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

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