Tummy Time: What is it & is it Important?

Tummy Time: What is it & is it Important?

Tummy time should be one of a baby’s first exercises, and can impact your child’s physical and cognitive development. . But why is it so important?

Is tummy time important? Yes – tummy time is crucial for your baby’s development. It helps to strengthen your baby’s neck and shoulders, which will make it easier to support their own head. Your baby’s cognitive skills will also benefit from tummy time, as they will learn from exploration and new experiences

Read on to find out more about the importance of tummy time for child development, and the benefits that tummy time can bring.

Tummy Time

What is ‘Tummy Time’?

Since 1990, the “Back to Sleep” campaign has encouraged us all to put our little ones to sleep on their backs, not on their front. Although this was for a very good reason (to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS) it does mean that during the day, we need to make sure that babies have devoted time to play on their tummies.

Tummy time is when you place your baby on their stomach whilst they do their usual tasks, such as playing with toys or watching television. Tummy time is ideally done daily, for anywhere between 5-30 minutes. 

Your baby may, at first, make a lot of fuss during tummy time, so start off with just a few minutes and then gradually make tummy time longer until you reach around 20/30 minutes daily.

When Do You Start Tummy Time?

Tummy time can start straight away for newborns and even premature babies. As we mentioned above, you should only start with a few minutes of tummy time each day. 

You should continue with tummy time until your baby can crawl, or until they can get into the ‘tummy time’ position themselves.

If you are keen to learn more about when you should start tummy time, as well as what you should expect at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months old, read one of our recent blogs. 

Does Tummy Time on the Chest Count?

Yes! In the early days, lying your baby on your chest does count towards tummy time. To do this, rest yourself against some pillows and place your baby in a position so they can look at you whilst on your chest.

Why is Tummy Time Important?

There are various benefits to tummy time. Firstly your baby will be working on strengthening their neck and controlling their head. You will see this develop as they get older from having their face on the floor to being able to lift their head up and turn to each side successfully..

Alongside this, they will be strengthening their shoulders and arms, back and bottom muscles. These will all help to form the building blocks for the next stages of development, which includes

  • Rolling, 
  • crawling, 
  • sitting, 
  • walking,
  • and beyond.

Tummy time is excellent for improving your baby’s cognitive skills. Through the exploration of different movements, your baby will eventually understand that they can use different muscles to move different parts of their body.

Evidence shows that tummy time also promotes better cognitive development (thinking & problem-solving) and better vision as your baby learns through exploration and new experiences.

What Happens if You Don’t Do Tummy Time?

If you don’t do tummy time, it’s likely that your baby will take longer to strengthen their upper body. As a result, your baby may not be able to hold up their head as they approach 4 months of age, which may be cause for concern. 

Torticollis (also known as Wryneck or tightening of the neck) is a condition that can be caused by being cramped in an unusual position. This puts pressure on your baby’s sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM), causing it to tighten. 

If your baby spends too much time on their back in the first 3 months of life, they may develop flat head syndrome (also known as Positional Plagiocephaly). This can be avoided by encouraging your baby to spend time on their tummy.

Baby Development Checkup From Therapy Stars

If your baby is struggling to progress with tummy time and not reaching key developmental milestones, you may wish to get help from a paediatric physiotherapist

Not only can we offer advice and support, but we also offer baby checkups. We’ll look at your child’s current abilities, and be able to advise you on the best course of action if they aren’t reaching developmental milestones.

To book your developmental milestone checkup, get in touch with one of our friendly physiotherapists via phone or email