In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched a campaign called “Back to Sleep,” encouraging parents to put infants to sleep on their backs and to remove soft items from cribs to reduce the risk of SIDS. While the incidence of SIDS declined dramatically, pediatricians also noticed an uptick in conditions called torticollis—where a baby’s head tilts to one side—and plagiocephaly, where babies develop flat spots on the backs of their heads. Both conditions tend to resolve with time and movement, but the AAP also recommends “tummy time” to help babies develop motor skills and muscle strength.
The importance of tummy time shows in developments such as earlier rolling over and crawling. Movement is associated with learning in infants, and while tummy time won’t turn your child into an Einstein or Mozart, it will provide beneficial encouragement for them to push up with their arms, raise their heads, and look around, eventually developing into crawling to reach interesting objects such as attractive toys or a parent seated just out of reach.
How to Do Tummy Time
When your baby is awake and alert, spread one of our organic muslin baby blankets in a cleared area on the floor. Place them on their tummy atop the blanket for three to five minutes several times per day while you’re nearby and watching. Gradually increase the time as the baby gets used to it, and begin to add toys within reach to encourage the idea of tummy time as play time.
As tummy time becomes routine, you can move the toys a bit further away to encourage your baby to stretch and try to move toward them. Eventually, a baby that enjoys tummy time will begin to raise their head, push up on their arms, and even try to roll over, developing upper body strength and preparing to crawl.
Another way to do tummy time is to lie down on your back and put the baby on her tummy on top of your stomach. The baby will try to raise herself up to see your face.
Never allow an infant to fall asleep on their stomach. Remain close by and watchful during tummy time. While tummy time is important, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like being on their stomach—you can try it for shorter periods and encourage your baby by getting down on the floor with them, singing songs, making faces, and just having fun together time. Try waiting her out—she may adapt to the new sensation and end up enjoying tummy time. If not, even a little bit of tummy time before you pick your baby up to stop their fretting has benefits.