What is tummy time, and is it important?
It’s the idea that you should schedule time for your baby to be on its stomach every day to strengthen its arm and neck muscles, but there’s limited evidence it makes a difference in your child’s development.
By age 1, there is no significant difference between babies who were routinely put on their stomachs each day, and babies who weren’t, according to studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal “Pediatrics.”
Why do other websites make such a big deal about tummy time?
There are two main reasons it’s commonly recommended:
- To encourage babies to use muscles needed for early motor development skills, like learning to hold up their own head and crawling. However, research shows all babies typically learn to walk at around age 1, regardless of how much scheduled tummy time they had.
- To help prevent the baby from developing flat spots on their head. However, tummy time doesn’t guarantee this and flat spots typically go away on their own by the time a child is 1.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the leading authority on children’s health, advises scheduling a certain amount of time each day to have your child on their stomach because they also advise keeping babies on their back to sleep. AAP advises to keep sleeping babies on their back to reduce the risk of them suffocating in their sleep.
While not regulating the amount of time your baby spends on its belly won’t significantly affect its long term well being, an awake baby shouldn’t be left resting on its back for very long periods of time.
Why should I trust you?
In doing thorough research on this topic, we found these to be the most useful and factual sources. We recommend reading them if you’d like more in-depth information:
- “Effects of Sleep Position on Infant Motor Development” by the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics.
- “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play” by HealthyChildren.org, created by the AAP.