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The Importance of Tummy Time

Most parents and caregivers know the importance of putting their babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but they may not realize that tummy time—supervised time when infants are awake and placed on their tummies—is important, too.

At Childbirth Graphics, we offer a variety of innovative teaching materials covering early parenting topics, including sleep safety and tummy time.

Read on to learn more about tummy time and ways to make the most out of tummy time for babies.

Why Tummy Time Matters

Placing babies on their back to sleep is one of the most important things parents and caregivers can do to reduce the risk of SIDS. When babies are awake, however, tummy time is essential because it can help prevent the development of flat spots on their heads and provide an opportunity to exercise their heads, necks, and shoulder muscles.

Our English/Spanish Loving Baby Care: Sleep Safety
Tear Pad
explains the importance of tummy time.

When babies are on their tummies, they need to move their heads and eyes up and from side to side to see people and objects around them. These movements can help develop the muscles in their neck, shoulders, and bodies and enhance their motor skills (the use of muscles to perform certain tasks). Babies need to develop these muscles and motor skills so that they can build up the strength and develop the ability to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk.

Tips for Tummy Time

All tummy time should be supervised by a parent or trusted caregiver. Babies should be awake and alert during tummy time. An ideal time to start a session of tummy time is after a baby has awakened from a nap or has had a diaper change.

  • Start having brief periods of tummy time from the time a newborn comes home from the hospital. Just three to five minutes two to three times a day is enough at first.

  • Initiate tummy time with newborns by placing babies belly down on top of the chest or lap of their parent or caregiver. Newborns enjoy lying on the chest of their parents and gazing at their faces.

  • Create a safe space for tummy time on the floor by spreading out a soft blanket in a clear area.

  • Get down on the floor with your baby. Provide face-to-face encouragement. Sing a song, or tell your baby a story.

Our Reducing the Risk of SIDS Tear
emphasizes the role of tummy time.

  • Use a rattle or place toys in a circle around the baby to encourage the baby to look around and reach out for the toys.

  • Have an older sibling get down on the floor to play with the baby. (Always ensure that your baby is supervised by an adult.)

  • Don’t be discouraged if your baby doesn’t like tummy time at first. As your baby becomes more familiar and comfortable with tummy time, gradually increase the length of each session. By the time babies are 3 months old, it is recommended that have about 1 hour a day of total tummy time.

Our Your Baby’s First Year Booklet explains
how tummy time helps develop motor skills.

Discover More Great Parenting Education Materials

Childbirth Graphics offers parenting education materials that cover a variety of infant care and early parenting topics, from sleep safety and tummy time to shaken baby syndrome prevention, infant bathing, oral care, childhood immunizations, and more. Find more great resources in our parenting education materials section.

The information contained in this article is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

©2022 Childbirth Graphics®