Tummy time not only sounds cute, but for a newborn, it’s a wonderful developmental exercise. Infants and even newborns should be placed on their tummies while awake every day to strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles.

At first, begin with just a minute or two. If your infant enjoys tummy time, they can remain for 10 minutes or until they get bored or show signs of frustration. By the time they are 4-5 months of age, some infants prefer to hang out on their tummy to play. Remember, this is an awake-only activity.

Just like certain yoga exercises for adults, tummy time encourages your baby to lift their own body weight (including the head, which is the heaviest part of the body). Tummy time has been shown to strengthen muscles in the neck, shoulder and back, which helps your baby make the next big steps: lifting the head, rolling over, and finally scooting along the floor and learning to crawl.

Tummy time has even been shown to reduce the incidence of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. Play it safe. Lay your baby flat on a blanket, keep toys, pillows and blankets out of reach, and don’t ever leave your child alone.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019

Takeaways

  • Initial tummy time sessions should only last a few minutes—up to about 10 minutes—or until your baby starts to fuss.
  • Some babies love tummy time, while others will fuss and need an adjustment period to become comfortable.
  • Tummy time is an awake-only activity!
  • Besides SIDS, the exercise also helps prevent positional plagiocephaly, or flattening on the back of a baby’s head.

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Tummy Time.

Comments

  1. I made it a priority with both of my girls to have lots of tummy time. Like many babies, they hated it at first and would scream every time I put them on their stomach. Over time, they grew to enjoy it and now prefer playing on their tummy most of the time.

    Reply
  2. Hi Carolina! Yes, what you are doing is perfect. Just a minute or two at his age is more than enough. If he fusses or seems uncomfortable then stop. Also, remember it’s for when he is awake and not when he is asleep.

    Reply
  3. How early can I start? My son is doing pretty good at it for his age, when I have him facing down in my stomach he lifts his head for a little to look up and around and then he puts it back down. But should I do this now in a regular basis? Thank you.

    Reply

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