Establishing Tummy Time routines to enhance your baby’s development.
TUMMY TIME is an important activity for your baby’s development and is endorsed by the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP). Because the AAP recommends that babies sleep on their backs for safety reasons, babies need enough
supervised Tummy Time during the hours they are awake to strengthen head, neck, and upper body muscles. Tummy
Time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing. Remember
that all babies benefit from Tummy Time, including newborns.
Pediatric occupational therapy practitioners promote a child’s development through activities such as Tummy Time, and
they can help make Tummy Time a regular part of your daily routine. The following tips are from occupational therapy
practitioners working with babies on Tummy Time.
• Consult with your health care provider first.
• Make sure your baby is alert and awake.
• Always supervise your baby.
• Place your baby on a safe and firm surface.
• Begin with 3 to 5 minutes per session, working up to a total of 40 to 60 minutes daily.
Tummy Time can be done in short sessions throughout the day, based on your baby’s
tolerance and needs.
• Pay attention to signs that your baby is getting tired, such as crying or resting his face on
the surface, and be sure to end Tummy Time before your baby becomes fatigued.
• Incorporate Tummy Time into the activities you’re already doing with your baby, such as
towel drying after bath time, changing diapers, or applying lotion.
• When burping your baby, try laying her across your lap on her tummy.
• It is never too early to begin to read to your baby, and Tummy Time is a great
opportunity for storytelling.
• Roll up a thin towel or blanket to make a bolster that will provide extra support during
Tummy Time. Place the bolster under your baby’s chest, and position his arms over the
roll, with his hands stretching out in front of it. Your baby’s chin should always be positioned
in front of the bolster so that the airway is not blocked.• Always supervise your baby during bolstering.
• Be sure your baby distributes his weight evenly on both sides of his body while on his
tummy to strengthen muscles equally.
• Limit the time your baby is constrained in swings, exersaucers, and other baby gear, and
encourage active play to strengthen his muscles through Tummy Time.
• Place a plastic mirror in front of your baby so she will be interested in lifting her head to
look at her own reflection.
• Use blankets or towels with different textures and colors so your baby can experience
different visual and touch sensations (e.g., switching between a terry-cloth towel and a
• A great way to carry out Tummy Time is to place your baby on your stomach or chest
while you are awake and in a reclined position on a chair, bed, or floor. This is also a
great way to begin Tummy Time with a newborn.
Positions for Baby:
• Side-lying is another positioning option. Position your baby on a blanket on his side,
and support his back with your hand or use a small rolled up blanket. Make sure both of
your baby’s arms are in front of him, and slightly bend his hips and knees so your baby is
comfortable. This position can also aid in reaching and playing.
Need More Information?
Pediatric occupational therapy practitioners promote the participation of all children and their families in everyday activities
(or occupations), including Tummy Time, to facilitate development. When there is a particular area of concern,
the occupational therapist can create an individualized strategy based on the child’s and family’s specific needs.
Occupational therapy practitioners work with children in their homes, at school, in private practice, at children’s hospitals,
and in other community locations, providing interventions that are individualized, appropriate, and effective. Ask
your pediatrician for a recommendation, or look online to find an occupational therapist in your area. You can find
additional information through the American Occupational Therapy Association at www.aota.org.
Developed by Christa Pumerantz for the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Copyright © 2013 by the American Occupational Therapy Association.