Consistent, supervised tummy time can help strengthen neck muscles and core muscles because baby is holding their head up for a period of time and holding their torso stable in the same position. Tummy time also decreases the risk of developing plagiocephaly or brachycephaly. Plagiocephaly is when one side of the baby’s head is a flat due to resting with the head turned to the same side every time. Brachycephaly is when the back of baby’s head is flat due to constantly resting on the back of their head. Tummy time helps take pressure off the same spots of the head allowing those spots to become round.
Tummy time can begin as early as birth. It can start with baby on parent’s chest so that baby is elevated. It can also begin with baby across parent’s lap so that baby is still close to parent but still getting benefits of tummy time. If baby cannot tolerate tummy time, starting with side lying is a good option. Side lying can take pressure off the back of the head or the side of the head that is preferred.
Tummy time is also important for visual motor skills or the how a baby looks around at their environment. It encourages baby to visually explore their surroundings and interact with their environment. Tummy time is important in gross motor development and gross motor playing skills and mobility skills. Baby will start rolling from their back to their tummy and then eventually back to their tummy. Once baby can roll, they will eventually begin army crawling then crawling on their hands and knees and build strength to eventually begin to stand and walk.