Your baby is growing fast, and every day is something new. He’ll soon be moving around and exploring his world, and tummy time helps him get ready to roll, sit and crawl.
Experts in the U.S. agree that babies should sleep on their backs, with no crib bumpers, blankets, pillows or fluffy toys in the crib or bassinet, until at least 6 to 12 months of age. These safety measures have been shown to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. So when your baby is awake, make sure he spends plenty of time on his tummy.
Tummy time is good for your baby because it:
- Promotes muscle development in the neck and shoulders.
- Helps prevent tight neck muscles and flat areas on the back of the baby’s head.
- Helps build the muscles a baby needs to roll, sit and crawl.
Tummy time is fun
Tummy time does not mean your baby has to be lying still on his tummy. It includes any activity that keeps your baby from lying flat in one position against a hard surface. Any time you carry or play with your baby while he is on his belly counts as tummy time.
You can keep your baby on his tummy while you’re holding, rocking, carrying, diapering and feeding him. You can let him play on a blanket on the floor or ground, but be sure your child is closely supervised at all times.
To make tummy time more fun for you and your baby, try:
- Playing different kinds of music to see how your baby responds.
- Offering different toys to keep your baby’s interest.
- Talking to, tickling and just spending time with your baby.
- Changing locations to give your baby new things to look at.
- Snuggling your baby with his tummy against your shoulder, with his face toward you.
- Lying on your back with your baby on his tummy and on your chest.
- Toweling and dressing your baby while he’s on his tummy, gently rolling him from side to side.
As your baby grows and becomes stronger, he’ll begin raising his head to look around. Then you can try new activities. Watch him as he watches you, and see if you can get him to raise up and turn his head.
Flat spots and Flat Head Syndrome
One reason tummy time is good for your baby is that it helps prevent:
- Plagiocephaly: A flattening of an infant’s head on the back or side
- Brachycephaly: A flattening that is mostly straight across the back of the head
- Torticollis: Tightened muscles on one side of the neck that causes the baby to hold his head in one place
Even with tummy time, some babies might develop one or more of these conditions. They are usually not harmful, and most babies grow out of them when they start to sit up. But some babies might need treatment to prevent a misshapen head or other problems.
Children’s can help. Our Cranial Remolding Program program uses special helmets, or orthoses, to gently reshape the skull. Physical therapy can help correct torticollis. We can also answer any questions you have about tummy time or preventing any of these conditions. Call 404-785-5684 to learn more.
Download and share our Tummy Time Tools
For more tips and information about tummy time, download our Tummy Time Tools. Be sure to make copies and share them with everyone who cares for your baby or has one of their own. The handout clearly explains the importance of tummy time. It also offers suggestions and photos to help you increase tummy time while carrying, snuggling, dressing and spending time with your baby.