Importance of Tummy Time

Posted by

Alicia Amsberry, PT, DPT

Time to read

2 minutes

What is tummy time?

Tummy time is the time your baby spends on his or her tummy while awake and supervised.  Tummy time is an important activity your baby should participate in during the day in order to develop strength in their head, neck, and upper body muscles. It also helps build coordination and strength to promote gross motor development such as rolling over, reaching, sitting, and crawling. Tummy time will also help to prevent conditions such as torticollis and plagiocephaly (see our blog post from last week to learn more). 


When should I start tummy time?

Tummy time can start as soon as your baby arrives home from the hospital. It is important that your baby is awake and supervised during tummy time. For newborns it has been suggested to lay him or her on their tummy across your lap. As the baby grows then move them to the floor with a blanket. 

What if my baby doesn’t like tummy time?

The sooner you start tummy time, the sooner your child will get used to it. If your baby does not like it, try tummy time for one to two minutes each session and gradually increase the time, as your baby gets stronger. Incorporating your child’s favorite play toys will help keep them engaged.  If your child is having difficulty keeping their head up, use a towel roll or a pillow to help prop them until they are able to lift their head. 


How much time do they need to be on their tummy?

During the initial stages your baby should participate in tummy time two to three times a day for three to five minutes each session. As your baby develops strength and tolerance for tummy time, sessions should be more frequent and sessions should be longer. 


Tips and Tricks

  • Place toys on the floor around your baby so he or she can see them. This will encourage your child to reach out for toys. 
  • Lie on the floor with your baby to encourage him or her to lift head up. 
  • Let your baby have tummy time on your chest while you lay on the couch or recline back in a chair. 
  • If your child has difficult lifting their head, prop up on a pillow or towel.  


Is your child having difficulty adapting to tummy time or achieving other developmental milestones? If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Please call our office at 619.578.2232.