What is Tummy Time?

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  • Written By: O. Wallace
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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Tummy time is part of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) campaign, Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play, launched in 1992 in an effort to minimize sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). By putting infants to sleep on their backs, the rate of SIDS has plunged by nearly 70% according to some estimates. An unfortunate side affect of the campaign is that more children are developing positional plagiocephaly, or flattened head syndrome. This is when an infant’s head becomes flattened on one side of the head, potentially causing a malformed skull.

One study has reported that the average infant spends nearly 60 waking hours confined to a crib, playpen, swing, car seat or stroller. This “containerizing” of infants has a detrimental affect on their muscular and motor development. Tummy time gives infants much needed physical activity, which helps them to strengthen their muscles and practice motor skills. Spending time on the tummy lays the foundation for head and neck control, crawling, pushing up, sitting and rolling over.

Most doctors recommend about two to three sessions of tummy time per day, for about ten minutes at a time. If your baby absolutely hates it, any amount of time is better than none. From the time your baby’s umbilical chord stump falls off, make tummy time a part of your daily routine. If your baby has an adverse reaction to tummy time, gradually increase the time he spends there until he reaches a good amount.


Picking the right time of day for tummy time is crucial. After a feeding or before naptime may not be the best time. Usually, after a nap or diaper change is better. Most babies don’t have very good head control until around four months, so you may need to prop her up with a rolled up towel or special pillow under her chest. This raises the upper body and head so that your baby can get a better look around.

Toys are an important part of tummy time. This is the time for your baby to explore the world around him, so make sure to put interesting toys within his reach. Vary where you put the toys so that your baby will have to “work” to see them.

Gradually, you can move the toys further and further away so that he has to scoot himself to them. Musical toys, toys that light up, books and mirrors are all the entertainment your baby will need. There are also special mats designed for tummy time.

The most important part of tummy time, besides the physical and mental activity, is the opportunity for your baby to interact and bond. Your encouragement and stimulation gives your baby the confidence she needs to learn and develop.


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Discuss this Article

Post 4

Suntan12-I agree that Gymboree is a great suggestion. They also help other children with their fine motor skills. They offer classes on phonics as well as school preparation courses.

I enrolled my daughter when she was a baby, but when she was about 18 months she got bored and then I moved her to My Gym which is more gymnastics oriented.

She loved this program because she was very active and My Gym offered more opportunities to move around. They also have classes for babies as well.

Post 3

Sneakers41-I think that another fun way to encourage tummy time is to sign up for some Gymboree classes.

They have classes for children from 6 months to 5 years for the music and art.

The play and learn classes allows babies right away, but I would wait until the baby was at least two months old because their immune system is not yet strong enough for them to be subjected to the strangers in the gym.

They also have open gym time which allows members to go to the gym and use the various facilities. There is usually an initiation fee that you pay once and then you pay for a block of classes.

For example

, the enrollment may be in 10 or 12 week installments, so after every installment period you would have to pay for the classes again.

It is not like a regular gym where you pay a monthly fee.

They usually give you a discount if you renew early and the nice thing is that you get to meet other moms that you have something in common with. It really is a nice idea especially for stay-at-home moms that want to give their babies practice on improving their gross motor skills.

Post 2

BrickBack- I heard that walkers for babies are actually not a good idea.

In fact according to the American Academy of Pediatrics children can’t learn to walk on these baby walkers because they can’t see how their feet are moving.

Also, the children can bump into furniture and fall down the stairs.

It is better to buy these plastic fences that you lock in together that you can make a baby gym area for your baby.

You can buy the padded foam mats for the floor in different colors and place this colorful fence in a circular fashion. The children will love the colors and the mat will give the baby extra padding to walk around.

Little Tykes make the fence pieces. Some of these fences have mirrors and devices that they can shift back and forth. That is what I did for my kids and they loved it. You can also expand the space by buying more fence units.

Post 1

Baby play gyms are a good idea. You can buy an infant play mat that the baby can lay on and try to grasp the rings or rattle.

This encourages a baby to stretch his or her muscles including his neck support. Baby activity toys like a rattle or a mirror are important because they emphasize the sense of sound and sight and really offer the proper stimulation for a baby.

The important thing to remember is to never leave a baby toy like a stuffed animal in the baby’s crib because he or she can suffocate and die. The baby should always be supervised when lying on his stomach as well.

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