The Importance of Tummy Time

Our babies have so much going on in the early days of life. They’re learning to eat, sleep (hopefully!), communicate and move. Learning to move requires opportunities to do so, which is one reason why tummy time is so important.

Tummy time is a term used to describe the intentional time a baby spends on her tummy during the day while awake. Unless your baby has been given a medical reason against doing so, tummy time is for all babies. It is important for strengthening a baby’s neck, shoulder, core and leg muscles, which help the baby achieve milestones like rolling, reaching, sitting, crawling and walking.

The TummyTime!TM Method is a specific movement sequence that facilitates social play and optimizes baby/parent connection. And best of all, it’s fun!

Even though we know tummy time is important, there are reasons that may make it challenging for a baby to complete tummy time, such as:

  • Feeding issues

  • Reflux

  • Colic

  • Sleep issues

  • Demands of modern mothering

Often, our babies are born with some degree of preferred head-turning to one side or the other. These issues sometimes start based on how the baby is positioned in the womb, can be influenced by the birth process itself, and can become more persistent if a baby is spending too much time in a container.

A container in this sense means any piece of baby equipment such as a car seat, stroller, swing or bouncer that restricts the movement of the baby’s body. We all use containers – it’s a necessary part of modern parenting! For example, a car seat is vital to keeping our babies safe while driving, and other containers can be useful when we need to keep our babies safe when set down for short periods of time.

When it’s time for play, there are easy steps we can take (like tummy time) to give our babies ample opportunity to move and allow them to reach developmental milestones. Here are some simple tips to help your baby navigate the world in different directions of movement:

  • Alternate the arm with which you hold your baby.

  • Alternate which side your baby’s head faces when doing skin to skin cuddling.

  • Alternate which side baby is feeding (with either bottle feeding or breastfeeding).

  • Alternate which side of the crib your baby’s head faces while sleeping.

Additionally, another option is to create a safe space in your home where you can complete diaper changes on the floor so that your baby gets small doses of free playing throughout the day.

In time, with new exposure to movement and the world around them, your baby will start to engage muscles and explore in new ways!

Join Annie and other mamas at our upcoming Tummy Time™ Method Classes!

For Babies 2-12 weeks: February 6, March 6, April 3

For Babies 13 weeks-precrawling: February 20, March 20, April 17

Written by Annie Hooker, PT, DPT

Annie is a licensed physical therapist, community educator and mother of two. She is the owner of Cura Therapy LLC, providing in-home early intervention physical therapy services for babies and children ages birth to three. To learn more, visit www.curaminneapolis.com.

Resources:

www.tummytimemethod.com

Kaplan, Sandra L., et al. “Physical Therapy Management of Congenital Muscular Torticollis: A 2018 Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline From the APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.” Pediatric Physical Therapy. Oct. 2018, vol.30. no.4, pp.240-290.

https://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=53d90264-1846-4b86-891f-0facc63db3e8

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/MotorDelay/Pages/default.aspx