Chrissy's Blog

Applying the latest in pediatic therapy research and practice to make children stronger, happier, and develop to their full potential. Your comments and participation are most welcome. Please let me know if I can answer any questions in the comment fields after each post or email me at

Tummy Time: A Crucial Practice for Developmental Milestone Development

From the time a baby is born, and enters a world ruled by gravity, they begin an incredible journey of growth and development. Parents and caregivers play a significant role in facilitating achievement of developmental milestones, and one of the most vital early activities to promote development of motor milestones is tummy time.

Tummy time is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of placing an infant on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This simple yet essential activity has profound implications for a baby’s physical, motor, and cognitive development. The recommendation is 1 hour per month of age during awake supervised time. For example, a four month baby should be spending at least four hours per day on their belly during awake play time.

Building Core Strength and Promoting Visual Development

When a baby lies on their stomach, they use their neck and upper body muscles to lift their head and look around to interact with parents and observe their environment. This effort helps to build neck and core strength, as well as shoulder and arm strength, which are crucial for both visual development and the development of gross motor milestones like rolling over, sitting, pushing up into sitting, crawling, pulling to stand and walking. Strong core muscles are achieved from moving through this developmental progression later contribute to a student’s ability to maintain upright posture at school, learn more complex motor skills such as running, hopping and then learning sports specific skills later in life. Fine motor skills are also built from this foundation. Time spent in prone help infants to develop hand eye coordination and gives an infant the opportunity to learn how to use their eyes together to track.

Preventing Flat Head Syndrome

Tummy time can help reduce the risk of positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome. Spending too much time lying on their back can cause a baby’s head to flatten in one spot. Babies can tend to lie in a position of preference and return to that flat spot when resting, and the flattening progresses and the position is reinforced. Torticollis can develop. Some babies are also born with Torticollis or neck muscle tightness with a positional preference, and will develop a flat spot on their head. Regardless of the cause, regular tummy time helps strengthen the neck extensor muscles and allows the baby to lift and change their head position and to redistribute the pressure on the baby’s head more evenly in back lying, reducing the likelihood of developing a flat spot.

Promoting Bonding and Interaction

Tummy time is an excellent opportunity for caregivers to bond with their baby. Engaging with the baby during this activity, whether through gentle play or making eye contact, fosters emotional connections and strengthens the caregiver-child relationship. A parent can lie on the floor in front of the baby and sing to them or to read them a story. Your calm demeanor and voice will encourage them and help them remain calm as they work hard to lift their head against gravity to look at you.

Encouraging Independence

As babies become more accustomed to tummy time, they develop a sense of independence and agency over their movements. They learn to move their bodies to get where they want to go. This newfound confidence can translate into increased curiosity and a desire to explore their surroundings. This helps to foster cognitive, social and fine motor development as they explore.

Start Where you are

No matter how old your baby is, it is not too late to begin tummy time. Start with the amount of time they are able to tolerate, and set a timer to help keep track. Increase the length of the tummy time sessions each day. Some fussing is to be expected, and this will get better with time and practice. Practice tummy time throughout the day to help give them many opportunities, if even just for five minutes at a time, to practice in order to develop mastery of this important skill.

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