Starfish Therapies

May 5, 2009

Tummy Time: What’s the Big Deal?


Tummy Time

If you do a Google search of Tummy Time there is a plethora of information that appears.  It covers everything from why a baby should be on their stomach to ideas on how to get your baby to enjoy being on their stomach.  This being said, I still come across a lot of questions regarding Tummy Time and I hope to shed some light on this potentially enigmatic developmental phenomenon!

Tummy Time has become a common phrase in the last decade or so as a result of the NICHD Back to Sleep Campaign.  Prior to this time most parents put their children to sleep on their stomachs so Tummy Time was never an issue.  Now, with children sleeping on their backs they are spending 12 or more hours a day (if a parent is lucky and their child sleeps that much) on their backs which used to be devoted to time on their stomach.  Tummy Time evolved in response to the disproportionate amount of time that children were spending on their backs and the resultant side effects in their gross motor development.  In fact, some physical therapists have found that the increased amount of time an infant spends on their back while awake is the number one contributor to the continued rise in developmental delay cases.

Enough about the adverse effects of lack of Tummy Time, what are the benefits?  The benefits are numerous and I will attempt to touch on many of them (I may have to cover them in a later post to do them justice).  Tummy Time helps your child to strengthen their neck (head control), back (trunk/posture control), and tush muscles (necessary for all sorts of gross motor movement).  It also allows your child to stretch.  While in the womb, they spend nine months in the fetal position (tightly curled up) and now they need to stretch out their back and hips and legs.  Stretching is also important due to the increased amount of time children are spending in carriers and bouncy seats.  It will decrease the likelihood of your child developing a flat spot on the back or side of their head.  The back of the skull is soft and developing so it is easily malleable while their facial bones are firm and not as likely to deform.  Tummy Time encourages your child to push up and strengthen their arms and shoulders, as well as begin to weight shift, and is the precursor to rolling as well as to pushing back onto all fours to learn how to crawl (see ‘To Crawl or Not to Crawl…‘ for more on crawling).  Tummy Time also provides your child with new sensory experiences and can help them begin to organize their sensory system which may (this is my opinion) help to deter the rise in sensory processing disorders that we are seeing in our children.  These are just a few of the benefits, there are many more.

As you can see, Tummy Time can spawn many avenues of conversation and I have only touched on a few of them here.  Please comment or email me with any questions or areas that you would like to see more information on and I will expand on them in later posts.  Also, look for strategies to encourage Tummy Time in an upcoming post!



  1. […] As a baby the best thing for them is to be on their belly.  (Check out ‘Tummy Time:  What’s the Big Deal?‘ and ‘Strategies for Tummy Time‘ if you need help with this)  As they begin to […]

    Pingback by Buns of Steel: The Exercises « Starfish Therapies — June 22, 2009 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  2. […] your child spend time on activities such as tummy time is not just a waste of time.  From this position they begin to learn how to push themselves up and […]

    Pingback by Motor Planning 101 « Starfish Therapies — November 30, 2009 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  3. […] around them?  In addition, looking at plagiocephaly I go back to my stance on the importance of tummy time for infant development and exploration.  I think that we need to increase the opportunities for […]

    Pingback by Does Gross Motor Development Affect Cognitive Development? « Starfish Therapies — February 28, 2010 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  4. […] The easiest way for a parent to prevent their child from getting a flat head is to make sure they are getting plenty of tummy time. […]

    Pingback by Why Are Babies Getting Flat Heads? « Starfish Therapies — January 9, 2012 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

  5. […] time and I have discussed why I think its important in Tummy Time: The Cornerstone of Movement and Tummy Time: What’s the Big Deal.  I have also provided suggestions for ways to incorporate this in Strategies for Tummy Time.  I […]

    Pingback by Tummy Time – Its a Ball! « Starfish Therapies — January 31, 2012 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  6. How about an article posting the benefits of tummy time for school-aged children?

    Comment by Holly — February 13, 2012 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  7. […] Tummy Time:  Whats the big deal? […]

    Pingback by Some More Tummy Time | Starfish Therapies — April 24, 2014 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  8. […] back, they are working their muscles on the front.  If they are on their belly (yes the dreaded Tummy Time), they are working their muscles on the back.  So how do they work the muscles on the side?  Its […]

    Pingback by Side-Lying -The Forgotten Position | Starfish Therapies — January 22, 2017 @ 12:54 am | Reply

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