Strengthening, sensory development and positional prevention: Top benefits of tummy time

We all know that tummy time can be a battle. Baby doesn’t like it, you don’t like it and generally, it causes a lot of bother. The problem? We know it’s so important for baby’s healthy and robust development.

Tummy time is a great way to help build your baby's upper body strength. It’s a really important exercise to help strengthen the back, neck and shoulders. It’s an essential part of baby’s development as it helps to build the muscles your baby needs for sitting and crawling - but many of them dislike it, which can be a problem, as it’s essential to build up these areas.

Happy little boy crawling on sheet

Tummy Time is safe to start from birth, but how you do it with a newborn is different than how you would do it with a baby that’s a few months old. For newborns, start doing tummy time by lying your baby on your chest (but only do this when you are wide awake and unlikely to fall asleep). Gradually increase the amount of time you do this day by day and wait until your baby is ready before doing tummy time on the floor. The NHS recommend starting off with three to five minute increments two or three times a day.

Introducing a little every day will allow you to build up the amount of time they spend doing it little by little. Little and often is the best way to approach it and be sure that baby is only practising it when they’re wide awake and alert. It’s important to be there to watch them while they do it.

Baby in Blue Shirt Lying on Bed

Tummy time can feel like such a battle that sometimes we forget why we’re doing it, so here’s a reminder of all the benefits your baby is getting when you put time and effort into tummy time.

Promotes visual, motor and sensory development

In their first months of life, babies are generally rather stationary. They lie where they are put down, they cuddle where they are held. But they are curious about the world around them, visually and sensorily. If they’re lying flat on their backmost of the time, they’re not seeing much beyond the ceiling and the faces around them.

Smiling Baby Biting Right Index Finger

With tummy time, your baby begins to develop differently They can reach for brightly coloured toys in front of them, feel the texture of the carpet or blanket beneath them, their eyes can track the movement of your hands or of an item. Which is why having a few stimulants around baby during tummy time is a huge help in terms of development. Toys or items that are textured, coloured, interesting – baby playing with those develops their fine and gross motor and sensory skills, so nurturing their interest in exploring is essential to making them more comfortable sensorily processing the world around them.

They can follow new sounds, track where they’re coming from and see the world from a different perspective than their usual which will help cognitive development

Strengthens neck, back and head

As they develop these fine and gross motor skills, they build up their strength in key areas that offer support and are instrumental to their balance and movement. Lying on their backs, they don’t get much use out of key muscles that Tummy Time forces them to use.

Sleeping Man and Baby in Close-up Photography

Their core, back, shoulder and neck all get built up by Tummy Time as they are engaged in support of the position, lifting their head and pushing themselves up to see, moving their necks as they do so. The more time they spend doing these kinds of movements, the more advanced their muscular development, flexibility and movements will be.

Prevents positional conditions

Because babies often lie flat on their backs, they can develop a condition that is colloquially known as ‘flat head syndrome’. It’s exactly what it sounds like: The back or side of the head can become flat due to the weight on it from lying flat on their backs.

baby lying on fabric cloth

Babies skulls are soft for their first few months of life, a leftover precaution from being born. The plates of bone in their skulls don’t harden and fuse until a few months – or in some cases even years – after birth. Tummy time means that they aren’t putting that pressure on their skulls 24/7, and functions to prevent such conditions from happening.