Updated: Jul 5, 2021
Your cute baby bundle has just arrived, and you may be wondering when to start their daily tummy time routine. The short answer: right away!
Let's check out the data. Tummy time helps develop gross motor skills, increases the ability to move while prone, supine, crawling, and rolling, and leads to a decrease in flat head syndrome (Hewitt et al., 2020). In fact, the UK "Born to Move" initiative, which aimed to promote the value of awake tummy time in infants, lead to a whopping 64% increase in the number of babies who crawled within their first 12 months only a year after the project started (Haynes and Haynes, 2016).
So hooray for tummy time! But when should your baby start it? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends tummy time two to three times each day for a duration of three to five minutes "beginning on the first day home from the hospital" (Ma, 2009). If your baby does not enjoy time on their stomach, try interacting with baby while they are belly-down on your chest. Research shows that this position leads to a "reduction in negative vocalizations and an increase in head elevation" (Mendres-Smith et al., 2020).
Hewitt L, Kerr E, Stanley RM, Okely AD. Tummy Time and Infant Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. 2020 Jun;145(6).
Ma, David. "Babies Should Sleep on Their Backs, Play on Stomachs.” AAP News and Journals, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Sept. 2009, <www.aappublications.org/content/30/9/30.7>.
Haynes J, Haynes L. Born to move: The importance of early physical activity and interaction. Community Pract. 2016 Sep;89(8):37-41.
Mendres-Smith AE, Borrero JC, Castillo MI, Davis BJ, Becraft JL, Hussey-Gardner B. Tummy time without the tears: The impact of parent positioning and play. J Appl Behav Anal. 2020 Sep;53(4):2090-2107.