Tummy Time for Babies

Tummy time is important for babies because it:

  • Enables them to develop a strong back and good neck and head control and is important for the development of speech and language skills. Head control is the first skill a baby must learn. It’s important because the position of the head influences how other muscle groups operate further down the body.

  • Promotes visual development

  • Helps babies grow stronger to prepare for later development stages such as crawling

  • Helps to inhibit the palmar reflex (clenched fist) as it encourages babies to open up their hands, helping them support their upper body weight to enable the development of crawling. It’s also the start of being able to use their fingers independently and hold an object between the thumb and forefinger (pincer grip).

  • Prevents them developing a flat head, which can sometimes happen if babies spend too long lying on their backs and in car seats

  • Helps to develop the vestibular (balance) system.

Babies need time to practise specific movements such as:

  • reaching and grasping for objects

  • turning their head toward stimuli

  • pulling, pushing and playing with other people, objects and toys

  • eye movement activities to help develop control of the eye muscle.

Later, they need opportunities to practise rolling, creeping (moving around on tummy) and crawling before they are able to pull up, cruise around furniture and walk unaided. Appropriate water-based activities, eg, parent and baby swimming sessions, are also recommended.