Tips For Tummy Time – From A Physical Therapist

Tummy time sounds so simple. Although, for many parents, tummy time turns out to be not so simple!  Often times tummy time is easy to skip especially if you have a baby that doesn’t enjoy it.  So, what is the deal with tummy time anyway and why do doctors and therapist’s encourage it?

Tips For Tummy Time - What worked for a mom and physical therapist. Try these tummy time tips and ideas with your baby girl or baby boy!

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History

In the early 90’s parents were advised that they needed to put their babies on their backs to sleep to prevent the occurrence of SIDS.  With this change there was a decrease in the occurrence of SIDS, which is wonderful.    Prior to back to sleep many babies slept on their stomachs and not their backs, so when you hear parents or grandparents say that they never did tummy time that’s probably the reason why.  Tummy time became a popular concept after the back to sleep change.

In 2008 a survey of 400 physical therapists was conducted on the behalf of Pathways Awareness.  It found that two-thirds of those surveyed felt that they had seen an increase in motor  delay over the past six years. Pathways Awareness is a great resource for several different research articles.  Research has found that with the decrease in tummy time, here has been a large increase in plagiocephaly (flat head), torticollis, and a delay in motor skills as a result of babies spending too much time on their backs!

Prior to being a mom I couldn’t fully comprehend how there was such an increase in torticollis, plagiocephaly, and a delay in motor skills.  Once my baby arrived, I totally can understand how it is much easier to keep them on their backs during the day.  As new moms,  our days are so busy, hectic, and we are SLEEP DEPRIVED!  Sticking children in car seats and placing babies on their backs is common place and convenient. I learned I had to find ways to incorporate tummy time into the day that seemed natural and routine.

Tips For Tummy Time

Tummy time should be performed when your baby is awake and with parental observation at all times! 

Tummy Time Tip - Pink Oatmeal

  • Right from day one our baby was doing tummy time on our chest.  We found this to be a great calming position for him. Think of a baby who has just come out of the womb all nice and curled up and now we throw them onto their backs with gravity coming down at them on top of all the sounds, lights, smells etc.  No wonder they don’t fall into as deep of a sleep.
  • After Big C was a few days old we moved to tummy time on the blanket on the floor.  (I know that some people are hesitant if their umbilical cord has not yet fallen off – then keep working on it on the chest.) Here we would lay right next to him so we were in his line of sight.

Newborn Tummy Time - Pink Oatmeal

  • If it’s hard to get down on the floor to get in baby’s line of sight use an elevated surface! Even a sibling can participate It works awesome.  Just don’t leave baby there without full supervision.
  • I  incorporated Big C’s baby gym (similar to this one)  while on his tummy.  We have a Boppy Newborn Lounger pillow that we use as a tummy time pillow with slight elevation so he could see his gym.  We don’t really use it too much for lounging but more for tummy time.

Tips For Tummy Time - What worked for a mom and physical therapist. Try these tummy time tips and ideas with your baby girl or baby boy!
  • Reading books with tummy time was huge for us! We used the newborn lounger  (affiliate) for Big C to lay on when reading his books.   It is literally amazing how focused he is on the book when reading in this position.  It was a great way to combine two excellent activities for babies!
  • A mirror is a great option to place in front of baby.  You can place it directly on the floor or right in front of their faces.  Who doesn’t love to look at a cute baby?  They love to look at themselves too! My baby would do tummy time with toys or something interesting out in front of your him. As your baby starts to get older you can get your baby’s arms are under them to help them work on building that upper body strength.

Tummy Time With Contrast Cards

    • Contrasting objects are great for babies.  There eyesight is still developing so contrasting objects are perfect for them.  We opted for contrast cards.  Check out the DIY version .
    • My favorite is getting down on the floor with your baby.  Your newborn loves you and loves to be near you and look at your face.  Get down and help them not make tummy time so miserable!

Recommendations:

At minimum be sure that tummy time is done for 1-2 minutes after every nap, diaper change, and feeding.

There is never too much tummy time.  Continue to work to incorporate it into other aspects of the day!

Supervision with tummy time is a must and should be done with an awake baby.

Make tummy time fun and not miserable for baby or parents!

In summary, keep working on that tummy time!  It’s important for your baby!  Hopefully some of the ideas in this post will simplify tummy time for you and your baby and help you understand its importance!

Favorite Baby Equipment

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Tummy Time Resources

Imagine having a self-paced course on tummy time,  that you can access at anytime you would like, put together by a child development professional.  The good news is you can!  The Baby’s Best Tummy Time – No Cry Guide Course (affiliate link) is a fabulous resource for any parent dealing with tummy time woes.  Get all the answers to your tummy time basics and troubleshooting tummy time in this course.  It’s a great price too!

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TUMMY TIME RESOURCE GUIDE

Not quite ready for the full course. Get all your tummy time needs in one handy guide.  This is a great reference to help take the struggle out of tummy time and the constant late night Google searches!  I get it I’m a mom of three too and life with a new baby is not easy!  I’m hoping to take one less thing off your plate for you in this guide!

Tummy Time

10 thoughts on “Tips For Tummy Time – From A Physical Therapist”

  1. Wow! How did something so common and developmental become complicated enough to create a whole concept on it. In my whole experience with babies(about 40 yrs)I have never seen “flat head”s. Cone head yes. Anyway I have two boys 27 and 22 yrs. The first one weighed in at 9lbs 10 oz 22 in He had jaundice and was put under lights on his tummy. He did pushup “circles” around the infants in the nursery. I actually tried to keep him on his back especially after feedings cause “tummy time” made him lose his meal. Well at the ripe old age of 6 1/2 wks he threw himself on his tummy and hated his back. I was informed in child development “classes” that they should do everything on their own. And they both did at the same age milestones. They climbed out of baby seats at 4 mo. Most babies can roll from front to back at 7 wks but it takes muscle to do the reverse. They wouldn’t sleep on their backs but they had to put themselves on their tummy, it’s part of development since the dawn of babies. No harm with the tummy time thing but no baby ever died of flat head, SIDS is a serious threat.

    1. Dr Stacie Klueber DPT

      Babies MUST do tummy time in order to develop upper body and cervical strength to crawl, sit up, and develop other motor milestones. This means they don’t sleep on tummy but parents need to be working them on this during waking hours. -Dr Stacie Klueber DPT

  2. I have a son he’ll be 6 weeks tomorrow. He was born premature and id like to know when is it a good time to start tummy time with him?

    1. I always recommend starting tummy time right away as long as it is okay medically with your doctor or therapists. You will want to check with them to make sure that they are good with starting it, if they are go for it!

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