Best 5 Exercises for Tummy Time

Is tummy time important for babies? Absolutely. It’s not just important, it’s an essential developmental milestone.

Back in 2006, I attended a baby development course with the legendary Paul Chek in London, UK. He opened my eyes to the importance of developmental milestones for babies and young children, and taught us the importance of milestones such as arching the back.

Tummy time is important for babies because it helps them develop motor skills, builds muscle strength, and is a natural part of their physical development. When babies (from a few months old) or infants are placed on their stomachs for brief periods throughout the day, they must use their neck, back, and arm muscles to lift their heads, turn their heads, and push themselves up. This assists in the development of their upper-body muscles, including their neck, shoulders, and arms, which are required for crawling, sitting, and eventually walking. Crawling is a key developmental milestone, so tummy time prepares little ones for the crawl.

Too much time spent on the back can cause flat spots to form on the back of a baby's head, which can be prevented by tummy time. Additionally, tummy time can aid in the development of babies' sensory and cognitive abilities by providing them with a new perspective on the world. When infants are placed on their stomachs, they must use their senses to explore their surroundings, which can aid in the development of spatial awareness and problem-solving skills.

Some people advocate placing babies on their tummy earlier than 4-6 months old, but 4-6 months seems to be generally accepted. It is recommended that parents begin tummy time with their infant as early as a few weeks of age, gradually increasing the duration and frequency as the infant grows and becomes more comfortable. Always supervise tummy time because babies won’t want to stay there for long, so you’ll need to turn them over fairly soon.

At Surrey Physio, we have some really good osteopaths who can see your baby regarding developmental milestones, including Kay Allardyce and Niamh Wright (featured in our videos with her baby), both based at our Selsdon clinic at CR2 8DD. To book an appt with them, call us on 0208 651 3315.

Let’s look at five exercises that we recommend parents do to improve tummy time…

Tummy Time on Chest

While your baby is awake and supervised, start tummy time by placing your baby lying on their front on your chest while reclined. Your baby may place their head to one side or they may arch up. This will help improve neck strength and encourage tummy time. Maintain this position for 1-3 minutes.

Tummy Time Reaching

Place your baby on their tummy on a soft flat surface. Find a toy to stimulate and make your baby reach up with one hand or two hands to promote tummy time and neck strengthening. Maintain this position for 1-3 minutes.

Prone Pushing Up onto Hands

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you in a V shape. Place your baby on their front over your leg with their arms outstretched and hands on the floor. Or you can place a toy on the floor to encourage your baby to grab the toy. Gently rock your baby forward to increase weightbearing through their hands. Maintain this position for 1-3 minutes.

Tummy Time with Towel

Roll up a towel that you place on a soft flat surface. Place your baby on their tummy with their arms over the towel and the chest resting on the towel. Make sure the elbows are tucked under to give support for their head. If their arms move out just move them back. Engage with your baby to promote head lifting. After a short period of time, your baby may start to whimper, at which point you can roll them to their back. This is good for strengthening the neck muscles of your baby. The towel gives a little more elevation and assists your baby to weight bear on their arms. Maintain this position for 1-3 minutes.

Tummy Time | Early Rolling

Lie your baby on their back on a soft flat surface. Cradle one hip and bring it over the other hip to twist your baby to their side. This will help your baby dissociate the pelvis from the trunk and promote rolling. If your baby does not roll over, you may need to assist the roll by helping their torso to turn. Repeat 5 times each side.

Tummy time is an essential developmental milestone. If you need advice or support, please call us on 0208 651 3315 and see Niamh or Kay.

(For any therapists reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises