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Myths & Facts about Tummy Time by a Pediatric Physical Therapist

Updated: Oct 4, 2023


pediatric physical therapy session

Most parents know that tummy time is important, and are often asked at their baby's check-ups "are you doing tummy time", but do you ever wonder exactly why it's so important? In this article, I tackle some common myths I hear about tummy time, and give you the real facts!


Myth #1 - You have to wait until your baby is a certain age to start tummy time


FACT: if your baby was born full term and is healthy, you can start tummy time RIGHT away, and most parents first contact with their baby (skin to skin) counts as tummy time! Your newborn will not tolerate being placed on the flat floor right away, but you can start introducing tummy time on your chest, in your arms, or on an inclined surface.


Myth #2 - Tummy time improves head shape


FACT: Although time spent on their stomachs can help prevent a baby's head from becoming flat, it will not correct abnormal head shape. If your baby has a flat head on their skull, especially on one side, they may have tightness in their neck (called torticollis), and positional preferences, that can only be counteracted by spending time with their heads turned to the opposite direction to apply forces on the other side of the head. Babies heads are soft, and their shape can quickly be molded, but this takes either a helmet or strategic, prolonged positioning. So yes, more tummy time can help with preventing worsening of abnormal head shape, but it won't correct it. For more info, check out a blog post that I wrote on plagiocephaly (flat head) here.

Myth #3 - Tummy time only counts on the floor


FACT: Tummy time doesn't just have to take place on the floor. The purpose of tummy time is to strengthen your baby's neck, shoulders, and trunk muscles to be able to build foundational strength required for basically the rest of their lives! Increased head control and neck strength will help your baby be able to support their head when they are learning to sit independently, and increasing their shoulder and trunk muscles will be helpful for your baby when they are learning to roll. So, any position you can get your baby in so that they are lifting their head against gravity, can count towards tummy time. This can be laying on your chest, with you inclined a little or a lot, on an exercise ball, on a wedge incline, propped up on a pillow or by a towel roll under their chest, or held in your arms face down.


Myth #4 - Babies hate tummy time and will never enjoy it


FACT: Tummy time does NOT have to be miserable for you or your baby. Introducing it early, and slowly, and building up your baby's tolerance can go along way. If your baby is hungry, tired, or crying, they are not getting a lot out of tummy time in that moment, and quality is definitely better than quantity when it comes to tummy time. Once your baby builds their confidence and tolerance to tummy time, you might find that you both look forward to this part of your daily routine, rather than dreading it!


I have created a FREE tummy time guide that you can download right now to get all of my tummy time tips, and age appropriate activities that you can start with your baby right away! Subscribe to my mailing list here and you will get the guide delivered to you immediately!


Already have the tummy time guide and looking for more resources & tips? Check out my shop for my month to month guide or my crawling guide now available!


If you are looking for my top rated toys and products for tummy time, check out my Amazon storefront* where I have a specific category for tummy time toys!


Looking for more support, or for professional advice from an expert on tummy time, book a FREE discovery call with me, by emailing me at: Karen@InchstonesPT.org, or book a tummy time consult with me directly here.



*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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2 commenti


This was so helpful! Thank you!!

Mi piace
Risposta a

Hi Carey - I'm so glad you found it helpful! -Karen

Mi piace
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