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
- 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.