Tummy Time’s Role in Boosting Baby’s Development

May 29th, 2014

05.29.14_Tummy Time _Image 2by Gena Rieger
Marketing Associate,

You probably know one of the best things you can do for your health is to exercise regularly, but did you know the same goes for your baby?

Fortunately, you don’t need to invest in any gym memberships to help your little one meet her developmental milestones—all you need to do is practice tummy time.

Placing your baby on her tummy to play helps her develop the muscles necessary to meet motor milestones such as:

  • Head and neck control
  • Rolling over
  • Sitting up
  • Pulling to stand

Babies who spend all day on their backs have less of a chance to develop important head, neck and abdominal muscles, which can lead to delayed head-lifting, sitting up and crawling.¹

In fact, a study published in Pediatric Physical Therapy showed that infants who spent time on their tummies while awake had more advanced gross motor skills at six months than babies who didn’t practice any tummy time.²

05.29.14_Tummy Time_Image 3It’s never too early

You can start tummy time with your baby as soon as she comes home from the hospital by lying down and placing your baby on your chest. Don’t be discouraged if your baby becomes upset the first few times you try tummy time. Just like us, it can be difficult for them to adjust to a new workout routine. Start small with just a few minutes of tummy time every day. Eventually try to work up to an hour a day in small increments. Try singing and using toys to keep your baby engaged and happy while on their tummy.


Top Tummy Time Moves05.29.14_Tummy Time _Image 1

There are a variety of ways for your baby to get her dose of tummy time. Practice the moves below and find out what works best for you and your baby.

  • Tummy to Tummy:
    Lie down on the floor or a bed, flat or propped up on pillows. Place baby on your chest or tummy, so that you’re face-to-face. Always hold firmly for safety.
  • Eye-Level Smile:
    Get down level with your baby to encourage eye contact. Roll up and place a blanket under the chest and upper arms for added support.
  • Lap Soothe:
    Place your baby face-down across your lap to burp or soothe A hand on your baby’s bottom will help steady and calm her.
  • Tummy-Down Carry:
    Slide one hand under the tummy and between the legs when carrying baby tummy down. Nestle baby close to your body.
  • Tummy Minute:
    Place your baby on her tummy for one or two minutes every time you change her. Start a few minutes at a time and try to work up to an hour a day in shorter intervals by the end of three months.

05.29.14_Tummy Time_Pathways LogoFor more tummy time resources, including handouts, videos and FAQs, visit Pathways here.

Founded in 1985, empowers parents and health professionals with free educational resources on the benefit of early detection and early therapy for children’s motor, sensory, and communication development. For more information visit or email is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

¹ Salls, JS, Silverman LN, Gatty CM. The relationship of infant sleep and play positioning to motor milestone achievement. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2002; 56:577-580.
² Monson RM, Deitz J, Kartin D. The relationship between awake positioning and motor performance among infants who slept supine. Pediatric Physical Therapy. 2003; 15, 196–203.