The Benefits of Tummy Time for Babies

Adjusting to life with a newborn means a new routine for everyone. And a small (but important!) part of your daily routine is tummy time. These few minutes every day build up to big benefits. Read on to learn the many benefits of tummy time.

Note: If you haven’t already, check out our tips for starting tummy time safely.

Mom shows the benefits of tummy time as she bonds with her baby

Graphic shows the emotional benefits of tummy time or how you can use tummy time for bonding with baby

Tummy time is a great time for bonding with your baby. When you communicate and connect positively during tummy time, it helps develop trust, which can lay the foundation for your baby to build resilience (the ability to handle life’s ups and downs) as they grow.

Here are some ways to connect with your baby during tummy time: 

  • Communicate with your baby. Talking, singing and making silly noises with your baby helps them begin to understand sounds and tones to help develop their language skills.
  • Show love through physical touch. Try “tummy-to-tummy” time. Similar to skin-to-skin contact you may have practiced after birth, this is a way to build physical connection with your baby. If you are awake and alert, place your baby on your belly, allowing them to move their arms, legs and head.
  • Make eye contact. Get on your baby’s level and make silly faces, smile, play peek-a-boo, or simply look into their eyes. Interactions like these will help with your baby’s brain development.
  • Provide comfort. Your baby may not love tummy time at first, and they may cry or get fussy, but that’s OK. Sometimes it takes children a while to get used to new experiences and routines. Try tummy time and if they cry try to soothe them. If they’re still fussy, it’s OK to pick them up and try again later. 

Graphic shows how tummy time is like sensory play for babies as they explore the world and their own bodies

When you put your baby down for tummy time, their entire world opens up from a different perspective. Think about it—the world looks different when you’re on your back, when you’re on your stomach or when you’re being held.

In this way, tummy time is early sensory play for babies. Other ways tummy time helps build your baby’s sensory experiences:

  • It allows your baby to feel different textures, like being on the carpet, a play mat or a clean hardwood floor. You can even put half their body on one surface while the other half touches a different type of surface.
  • It’s an opportunity for vestibular experiences. This is a technical way of saying it allows your baby to feel different movements with their head, from lifting to turning side to side.
  • It lets your baby get more in tune with things. Whether they’re exploring their own body, feelings and movements or simply taking in their surroundings, your baby has a lot of new experiences during tummy time. 

Graphic shows the physical benefits of tummy time or how tummy time helps babies’ physical development

You may have heard that tummy time is for helping your baby lift their head. While this is definitely true, there are so many other ways that tummy time helps with babies’ physical development.

Tummy time:

  • Helps babies build muscle strength. And not just in their necks! Time on their belly helps your baby gain the ability to move their muscles freely and strengthens their arms, legs and core muscles.
  • Helps babies reach developmental milestones. All that muscle strengthening helps babies roll over, sit up, crawl and, eventually, walk.
  • Improves babies’ early feeding skills. Building upper body strength and balance helps your baby get the skills they need to start eating solid foods, like reaching, gripping and grasping.
  • Helps prevent flat spots on your baby’s head. A flat spot on the head is called positional plagiocephaly. When a baby is positioned on their back for too long, they can develop these.
  • Can loosen neck muscles. If your child is born with tight neck muscles (torticollis), tummy time encourages your baby to turn their head more, which can help relax their neck muscles.