20 March 2023
Tummy time is vital for your baby’s development in several ways. Starting out can be tough. Many babies don’t like tummy time to begin with, so it’s best to start with short, five-minute sessions and build from there. The advice is to practise one hour a day minimum, which can be split into multiple shorter sessions. The more tummy time you do, the more your baby will come to enjoy it, and the more benefits they will gain.
During tummy time, babies must be awake and supervised at all times by a trusted adult. Babies must always sleep on their back and never fall asleep in their tummy time positions.
It’s always surprising to see just how quickly babies grow. Giving your baby the chance to develop their muscles is vital. Tummy time provides the all-important workout to your baby’s neck, shoulders and trunk that they don’t get in any other situation. Getting well-developed muscles in these areas then leads to good posture and strong balance, which equips them to sit up, crawl and walk. Once they’re mobile in this way, they’re able to move towards other developmental milestones.
Being down on the floor looking around literally gives your baby a new perspective on things. The neurons in an infant’s brain are constantly firing to make new connections, and something as simple as seeing things from this angle can have profound effects. They’re also independent for the first time - able to reach left and right, to feel the carpet on their hands, and to pivot about for themselves. Doing this eventually encourages babies to roll over and crawl.
Tummy time is the perfect chance for your baby to bond and socialise with others. It’s a chance to have a close, one-to-one session with your baby. Why not take the chance to spread out some toys and books, set up a mirror, or even blow some bubbles around? Tummy time and the interactions it can bring really develops your baby socially and emotionally.
A lack of tummy time has been linked to delayed development. Stimulating your baby’s senses during tummy time helps to make those all-important connections in the brain. Children will learn to scan with their eyes and focus on perspectives, and enjoy the new sensory experiences they get from being in a new position. As mentioned, it’s also a chance for your baby to be independent and explore for themselves. Giving children a chance to try things for themselves and pursue their own tasks to completion is a key component of neural development.
Flat spots on the back of a baby’s head - known as flat head syndrome or “plagiocephaly” - happen when the gradual pressure of lying on their back moulds parts of a baby’s soft skull together. Alarming as it may sound, it’s actually fairly common and usually rectifies itself as the children grow. Tummy time, however, is a great way to avoid this happening. Turning babies onto their tummies for regular periods each day helps to reduce the risk of flat spots considerably.