Tummy Time: How To Build Solid Foundations

tummy time
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Even though it might be hard to resist the urge to cuddle with your baby and lay down as much as possible, creating different stimuli for your newborn is fundamental to ensure their health. This is when tummy time comes to play! This simple practice offers a surprising range of benefits, from strengthening muscles to boosting brain power.

Tummy time isn’t just about strengthening neck muscles (although that’s important too!). It’s a foundation for future skills like rolling, crawling, and even sitting.

What Is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is precisely what it sounds like: it refers to the periods your baby spends on their tummy facing the surface. Tummy time is a necessary movement that newborns have to get used to and engage in, since it has impacts on their motor and muscular development. Also, it can prevent plagiocephaly – commonly known as flat head syndrome.

Although the syndrome is not dangerous from a clinical perspective, it can alter the baby’s appearance in the future, causing self-esteem issues.

Incorporating tummy time

When you’re taking your first steps in tummy time, the ideal frequency is about 3 to 5 minutes a day, about 3 times a week. Slowly progress from that as your child is more accustomed to it, making it about 15 to 30 minutes a day, every day.

Bare in mind that sessions don’t have to last that long at once: tummy time can be divided throughout the day. It all depends on how your Little One reacts to it.

Tummy time can start as soon as Mom and the baby are cleared to spend time together. If the medical team does not recommend any special attention, you can start to bond skin to skin as soon as possible.

Also, as a general rule: follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and try to restrain the amount of time your baby lays on their back: if they’re awake and playing, preferably they’re on their back. If it’s bed time, then you’ll place them on their back!

Why Is Tummy Time Important?

Babies are developing each and every day. To live their life to the fullest, they have to be healthy in all manners – physically, cognitively and emotionally. Tummy time can provide a bit of all of those to them!

The learning experience they get from tummy time is the first stage towards more advanced physical milestones – such as rolling, crawling and sitting.


Standing in their tummy is essential to help build strength on their core, which also has an impact on their motor skills development. Also, their increasing ability to support themselves on their tummy improves their neck, arms and body muscle.

As they evolve on tummy time, it’s also expected that babies use other parts of their body to keep their balance – such as swing their arms when they feel excited or want to reach out for something. This is also a way to stimulate them and develop other parts of their body.


As we’re about to see as the reading goes on, tummy time can be a fun family experience. The loving stimuli can help strengthen family connections, which is something you want to start as early as possible when it comes to your Little Ones.


While the baby is learning to stand their ground (with their tummy, but still!), they are being impacted by whatever is around them.

This includes the toys you’ll use to stimulate the baby to keep their tummy on the surface, or the sounds the baby will hear while they’re on tummy time.

As they’ll understand how to keep their balance and engage in playtime during their tummy practice, they are also progressing creating new neural connections and evolving their cognitive skills.

How Can Parents Stimulate Tummy Time?

After the family is back from maternity, tummy time can start as soon as Mom and Dad feel ready to lead the baby to it. Oh, and the umbilical cord is no barrier to it – unless there are strict doctors’ orders advising against it.

Here are some tips and tricks to make tummy time more enjoyable and safe.

  • Make sure the surface where they’ll lay is soft, free of sharp edges, and there are no dangerous objects your child can reach out and put in their mouth;
  • If there is an older brother, sister, cousin or close family that is part of the family circle, invite them to join tummy time as well. The baby will benefit from different faces, sounds, and loving energy!;
  • Practice tummy time around 30 minutes after feeding (regardless if the baby is breast or bottle fed);
  • Stimulate tummy time by standing next to your newborn as possible: put your face as close to them so that they see you when they’re practicing, or keep exclusive toys for tummy time.
  • An everyday object that can play part of tummy time is a small mirror – placed just out of reach of the baby, but still at their sight. This entices them to lift their heads and engage their core muscles.
  • Make it fun and musical: while you’re next to the baby, narrate what you’re doing, sing songs, or make silly faces to keep them interested and happy.
  • Don’t force it! If your baby gets fussy, take a break and try again later, trying different positions or stimuli.

Tummy time variations

Since tummy time implies a sort of trial and error, you’ll likely try different positions to find out which ones your baby prefers.

Here are a few variants of the traditional facing-down the ground.

Tummy to Tummy: lay on your back and place your baby on your chest or tummy, face-to-face. Talk softly and enjoy the moment!

Chest Prop: prop yourself up with pillows while your baby rests on your chest or tummy. This position allows for easy interaction and keeps your baby slightly elevated.

Football Hold: cradle your baby like a football, one arm supporting their chest and head, the other arm tucked between their legs. This keeps them slightly propped up and allows for close interaction.

Crossed Leg Cradle: sit comfortably on the floor and cross your legs. Place your baby tummy-down across your forearms and thighs, with their head facing one side. This position uses your legs for gentle support and keeps your baby close.

Sharing precious moments with your baby is part of their development and we advise you to enjoy them as much as you can. Tummy time is not only necessary for the baby’s health, but also as a bonding moment between the family and the Little One.

Keep mastering how to transform your home into a place of love and positive encouragement: here are learning activities for babies at home!

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