The Importance Of Tummy Time For Infant Development

As a new parent, you've probably heard it all by now. Every day you are constantly bombarded with advice for ensuring your baby's healthy development. However, one seemingly simple yet crucial practice that often gets overlooked is tummy time. 

Tummy time is a deceptively straightforward activity that can have a profound impact on your little one's physical and cognitive growth. It involves placing your baby on their belly while they are awake and supervised. Your little one lies on their tummy, propped up on tiny elbows, taking in the world from a brand new perspective. Meanwhile, you keep a watchful eye on them as their eyes look around curiously. Eventually, their limbs will be moving around with newfound freedom as they get a much-needed workout. 

It all seems like a simple positioning exercise but it is actually a powerful tool for fostering your baby's overall development. This sets the stage for important milestones in your baby’s developmental journey. 

Let’s talk about the importance of tummy time. 

Why Tummy Time Matters

As mentioned before, tummy time is quite simple to pull off. However, don’t let its simplicity fool you. It is a highly beneficial activity for your little one’s overall growth and development. Here are some of the ways your little one benefits from regular tummy time: 

Motor Skill Development: 

Tummy time plays a pivotal role in helping your baby achieve critical physical milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, and eventually crawling. By spending time on their belly, babies engage and strengthen the muscles in their necks, backs, and shoulders, laying the foundation for future motor skills. Each time your little one lifts their head or pushes up with their arms, they're building the strength and coordination necessary for the next stage of their development.

Preventing Flat Head Syndrome: 

While it's essential to follow safe sleep guidelines by placing your baby on their back for naps and nighttime, prolonged back sleeping can lead to flat spots forming on the back of their head. Tummy time provides a much-needed change of position, allowing your baby's head to shift and preventing the development of flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly).

Sensory Exploration: 

Being on their tummy offers your baby a whole new sensory experience. From the feel of the floor against their skin to the freedom of movement in their arms and legs, tummy time allows your little one to explore their surroundings in a way that's impossible when lying on their back. This sensory input stimulates their developing senses and promotes cognitive growth.

When and How to Start Tummy Time

It's never too soon to introduce tummy time to your newborn. While some parents may be hesitant or concerned about their baby's fragility or discomfort, experts recommend starting tummy time as soon as you bring your little one home from the hospital.

Begin with short sessions of just a few minutes, gradually increasing the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable and accustomed to the position.

In the early days, aim for several brief tummy time sessions throughout the day, lasting 1-2 minutes each. As your baby grows and strengthens, you can gradually increase the duration to 10-15 minutes or more. 

To make tummy time enjoyable, engage with your baby by placing colorful toys or mirrors within their line of sight and offering plenty of encouragement and interaction.

Creating a Safe Tummy Time Environment

Soft Surface: 

Choose a clean, flat, and comfortable surface for your baby's tummy time sessions. A soft play mat or a blanket spread out on the floor works perfectly. Avoid placing your baby on soft bedding or pillows, which can increase the risk of suffocation.


While tummy time is a relatively safe activity, it's crucial to provide constant supervision. Never leave your baby unattended during these sessions. Instead, use this time to interact and bond with your little one, offering encouragement and engaging their senses with toys, songs, or gentle touch.


To keep your baby engaged and challenged, vary the tummy time positions. In addition to the classic “chest-to-floor” position, try propping your baby up on their elbows or placing a rolled-up towel or small cushion under their chest for support. This variety not only works different muscle groups but also provides a fresh perspective for your curious explorer.

tummy time

Bonding and Interaction

Tummy time is more than just a physical development activity; it’s a precious opportunity for bonding with your baby. As you lie face-to-face with your little one, engage in simple interactions like talking, singing, and making eye contact. These moments not only strengthen your bond but also stimulate your baby’s cognitive and social-emotional growth.

If you have older children, tummy time can be a shared experience. Encourage siblings to lie on the floor with the baby, engage in interactive play, or simply provide encouragement. This not only strengthens the bond between siblings but also creates a joyful family atmosphere that your baby will thrive in. It also fosters a sense of responsibility and nurturing in older children.

Final Thoughts

Tummy time may seem like a simple practice. However, as we have seen, it has a profound impact on your baby's overall development. Doing it regularly sets the stage for your little one's future growth and development.

Remember, every baby is unique. The pace at which your little one progresses through all milestones will be different from any other baby. So just trust your instincts and follow your pediatrician's guidance. 

Finally, try to enjoy these precious moments with your little one. They grow up so fast, and before you know it, your baby will be running around the house! Good luck!