All about tummy time for your little one!

For 0-9 months | Author: Mansha Ali | Reviewed by Dr. Pallavi Bapat
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In this article:

  • What is tummy time
  • Who is it recommended for
  • How it benefits your baby’s development
  • Ways to practice it with your kiddo
  • Expert-recommended tummy time tips

Wondering about the benefits of tummy time for your little one?

As a parent, it is natural to be concerned about your baby’s growth and well-being. And with all the buzz about tummy time, you must be a little doubtful as to whether it has any real benefits for your baby’s development, where to start and how to practice it!

We’ve answered all your questions right here.

What is ‘tummy time’?

Tummy time is where the magic happens!

It refers to placing your baby on their tummy while they’re awake and supervised. It’s an essential activity, recommended by experts, for your baby’s development.

Among other things, tummy time prevents flat spots on the back of your baby’s head, strengthens neck, shoulder and trunk muscles, and enhances your kiddo’s motor abilities.


Who is tummy time recommended for:

  • For newborns; 1-3 month olds
    Babies this age are still learning to control their neck. Tummy time helps build the muscles necessary for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking. Caregivers should always watch over their baby during tummy time, especially during the first 5-6 months.
  • For 4-7-month-olds
    Even if they can roll over and sit with assistance, babies this age should still spend some time on their bellies. They can try to straighten their arms, and lift their heads and chests higher by doing tummy time. It works wonders for their arm, chest, and back muscles.
  • Babies with a neck condition called “torticollis”
    Torticollis is a neck disorder that affects some babies. A baby with torticollis cannot turn their head due to stiff neck muscles. Tummy time along with doctor-recommended exercises can relieve this stiffness and allow the baby’s neck muscles to relax.
  • Babies with “flat head syndrome” (positional plagiocephaly)
    The “flat head syndrome” occurs when newborns spend too much time on their backs in their first few months of life; so the shape of their head is flattened on one side. This is generally a benign condition. It can be corrected with regular repositioning activities like tummy time, and physical therapy.

How tummy time helps in your baby’s development:

Babies benefit greatly from 2 to 3 tummy time sessions daily, for 3 to 5 minutes. You can start practicing it from their first day at home! You can prolong the sessions as your baby grows and enjoys it. More tummy time will help your kiddo gain strength for sitting up, turning over, crawling, and walking as they get older. Read on to see how it helps your baby grow in various areas.

1. For baby’s motor skills

  • While on their tummy, your baby’s back, neck, shoulder, and core muscles get trained; meaning they get stronger.
  • You can lay the groundwork for your newborn to reach their motor milestones, such as rolling over, sitting, crawling, and more, by placing toys or round objects near them during tummy time.  

2. For baby’s sensory development

  • Feeling varied textures on their arms, hands, and cheeks (blankets, carpet, etc.) can help a baby’s sense of touch (tactile sense).
  • As a baby moves and their weight fluctuates, they become more aware of their bodies. This is called proprioception.
  • Positioning your baby differently each time aids their mobility and balance (vestibular sense).

3. For baby’s vision development

  • Tummy time helps develop your little one’s hand-eye coordination. 
  • During tummy time, your baby can see how their hands move and what they can accomplish by looking down at them.

How to start practicing tummy time:

For newborns 

  • Begin tummy time with your newborn by laying them belly-down on your chest or across your lap for a few minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times each day. 
  • They will slowly start elevating their head. You can go for a bit longer as your baby enjoys.

For older babies

  • Place a blanket in a clear space on the floor for your baby. Start by placing your baby on their stomach on the blanket for 3-5 minutes multiple times each day. 
  • Your baby may get irritable and frustrated in this posture, especially if they are new to it. Keep the initial tummy time sessions brief. Increase the time once your baby starts enjoying it.
  • It’s also a good idea to conduct tummy time after your baby has been fed, changed, and seems happy or satisfied.
  • For 3 months, doctors recommend that newborns get up to one hour of tummy time daily.
  • Make noises or shake a rattle to get your baby to look up and push up. Position a favorite toy in front of your baby to make them reach forward.

For babies with torticollis or a flat spot

  • Place your baby on your lap with their head away from you. Speak or sing to encourage them to turn around and face you. Do this for 10–15 minutes.

Tummy time tips:

  • Try some of these suggestions if your baby isn’t enjoying tummy time.
  • If your baby refuses to do tummy time, lay them on their tummy for a couple of minutes after every diaper change or wash. Soon, they will learn to expect it.
  • Avoid tummy time just after feeding.
  • Practice tummy time when your baby is most content.
  • Try to make tummy time as enjoyable as possible. Add toys, books and objects in your tummy time sessions.
  • Sing songs/lullabies to comfort your baby during tummy time.
  • Encourage visual tracking with rattles, toys, and mirrors.
  • Get down on the floor at eye level with your baby and let them look at you. They adore your face! 
  • If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, turn them onto their back; do not allow them to sleep on their tummy.

In a nutshell: 

Tummy time can begin as soon as your baby returns home from the hospital. Start with a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing to longer and more regular sessions as your baby grows older. As helpful as tummy time is, never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time, especially in the first few months of life.

At 7 to 9 months of age, your baby can reap the benefits of tummy time through crawling and other movements. However, having your little one spend some time on their tummy while playing is still beneficial.

How often do you give your baby tummy time? What are the precautions you follow during tummy time? If you found this article helpful, do let us know in the comments below!

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